Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 135737 times)

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #120 on: December 28, 2017, 08:24:27 PM »
I'm reading Sebastian Horsley's Dandy In The Underworld and enjoying it an enormous amount. It's extremely self-deprecating throughout but also very very funny, he certainly has a way with words, and it's a real tragedy that he died in the way that he did.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #121 on: December 29, 2017, 04:14:00 PM »
Ruth And Martin's Album Club, then. I don't think mere words are enough to say how much I hated this book. I don't know how it hadn't occurred to me before reading it that this is basically the musical version of a book club, and I fucking loathe book clubs - people being forced to read books they'd otherwise have no interest in, or in this case, listen to music they have no interest in, simply because someone else thinks they ought to. Fuck off! Read (and listen to) whatever you like and if anyone looks down their nose at you for doing so, well, they can fuck off as well.

OK, I've now said 'fuck' three times already in writing about this book. But seriously, the repeated question 'why haven’t you listened to it? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??????' shows the other main problem with this book - Martin Fitzgerald seems to have the brain of a mardy sixteen year old and writes with all the wit and grace of Adrian Mole. BAWWW....WHY HAVEN'T YOU LISTENED TO THIS RECORD I LIKE? Because it's by fucking Yo La Tengo mate, and I'd rather be dangled bollock-naked and slathered in gravy over a pit of crocodiles.

Most of the actual pieces by other people are quite dull and either fall into one of two categories - a.) 'Now that I've heard it, I can see that there was never any real need for me to listen to this album, as it's not really to my taste, but I'm going to be nice and say it's 6/10' or b.) 'I really didn't like this album so I'm going to go overboard with snarky comments about it in an effort to wind up the people who did.' Nobody's life was changed, absolutely nothing revelatory or interesting has been gained from these boring pieces, and the only thing that happened was that it probably raised my blood pressure.

And another thing. Why is it 'Ruth And Martin's Album Club' when Martin does all the work and writes it and Ruth does, er, nothing? Is it to make it sound twee and fucking cutesy, at least more so than 'Martin's Album Club' would, I suppose?

Actually, words have probably done a reasonably adequate job of conveying my displeasure at this sack of shit.

I now have to read something else in two days, as I can't let this be the last book I read in 2017.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #122 on: January 01, 2018, 04:51:55 PM »
I finished 2017 with Paul Hanley's excellent Leave The Capital. From the descriptions I'd read of it, and indeed from the cover of the book itself, I'd imagined this was just another general history of Manchester music, but intrigued by the fact that it was written by an ex-Fall member, I wanted to give it a go anyway. It was only when I started to read it that I realised that it's more specifically a history of two (Greater) Manchester recording studios, Strawberry and Pluto, and the records which were made there.

As such, it starts with a lengthy first section which is more about the formative years of the people behind the studios, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman (of 10cc) and a couple of ex-Hermits who left Herman behind. It's nice to read a book on Manchester music that doesn't start with the night the Pistols played at the Free Trade Hall, and also one that has time to talk about 10cc, Herman's Hermits and the ever-underrated Hollies.

Obviously, when it gets to the part of the book detailing which records were recorded at these studios, then some familiar faces crop up - Joy Division, The Smiths, The Fall - but there's also a chapter on The Clash recording 'Bank Robber' at Pluto, a track I had no idea was recorded in Manchester. I hope Hanley decides to carry on writing books, as I rather enjoyed this one.

And I've started 2018 by rattling through Bernard MacLaverty's Midwinter Break, which is a pretty decent read. I've never read any of his previous books, but might check them out at some point, as I did enjoy this one. It's basically a tale of a retired couple, Northern Irish by birth, but living in Glasgow, who take a short holiday in Amsterdam in January, and how their marriage is on the verge of ending, largely down to the husband's alcoholism.

Some of the writing is fantastic, and even though I'm a good 25-30 years younger than the protagonists, I could relate to some of the passages about aging. It is slightly let down by some forced and very stilted dialogue, which often feels like MacLaverty is trying to shoehorn in something he wanted to say, but couldn't find a more elegant way of doing it. It also has the dreaded 'terrible event from the past which changed the main character's lives which is hinted at throughout the book but only revealed in full near the end' conceit, but done reasonably well, and has the advantage of being truly shocking.

Both recommended.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #123 on: January 02, 2018, 09:13:41 AM »
I've kicked off the year with Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti. I'm only 100 pages in, but these are beautiful, beautiful stories. Now, I don't claim to necessarily instantly understand what some of these stories are actually about, but the writing and imagery are so captivating that it doesn't matter. Amazing stuff.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #124 on: January 02, 2018, 10:49:36 AM »
I'm going to start one of these three tonight...



The former was probably the most praised book that I haven't read in all of the end of year fiction lists. The middle one was a christmas present and might brighten up the January grimness and the final one has this opening page...



...and I like picturing Serge's face when he sees it.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #125 on: January 02, 2018, 11:04:01 AM »
Jesus wept. Buddha wept. Mohammed wept. Etc.

Money for jam, innit?

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #126 on: January 02, 2018, 11:39:14 AM »
Can't wait to get started on Ruth And Martin's Album Club!!!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #127 on: January 02, 2018, 11:42:23 AM »
We could get a few of us together to discuss it. Serge?

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #128 on: January 02, 2018, 04:43:36 PM »
I can imagine that page above being read out in a monotonous voice by a spotty herbert at a poetry night.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #129 on: January 02, 2018, 11:07:42 PM »
"Fail Better" by Mark Kingwell

It's a book about baseball, mostly, by a Canadian philosopher. His theory is that the best baseball player ever fails to get a hit seven times out of every ten, so it's got a lot of valuable lessons to teach us about failure and how it inspires us to keep going. It's really quite good.

I've struggled to read over the last six months or so, since I started a new job. I'd forgotten how much brain power learning a relatively difficult job takes, having coasted for a good decade or so at the Post Office. I'm getting back into it though.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #130 on: January 05, 2018, 12:47:56 PM »
Autobiography of Malcolm X

I'm about a third of way through and he's gone into too much detail on him faffing around hustling Harlem for my liking, but he's just been arrested and has explained that he wanted to go into a lot of detail to make sure people understand fully what his life was like before he became a muzza. I got a bit bored with his hustling but I think the rest of the book will be great. Let's see!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #131 on: January 06, 2018, 03:15:34 PM »
Just finished Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth. S'was alright. Not as edgy as her name implied, but just as worthy.

If you want to read an early 19th century novelist lightly rip the stuffing out of 18th century Irish landlords I'd definitely read it!

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #132 on: January 06, 2018, 09:02:41 PM »
Just finished Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth. S'was alright. Not as edgy as her name implied, but just as worthy.

If you want to read an early 19th century novelist lightly rip the stuffing out of 18th century Irish landlords I'd definitely read it!

Freaky: was reading this thread while watching final of Xmas University Challenge and read your post just as she was an answer in the show!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #133 on: January 06, 2018, 09:04:07 PM »
FHM

Danger Man

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #134 on: January 06, 2018, 09:29:14 PM »


Bit late to the party with this.

First few chapters are skill then it turns to shit.

Made it to the end but hated it.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #135 on: January 06, 2018, 10:42:44 PM »
A flawed book, but it’s nothing if not thought-provoking. I agree the second half ain’t as good.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #136 on: January 07, 2018, 10:13:45 AM »
Interesting, I've been toying with reading it, but haven't got round to it. Why does it turn to shit?

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #137 on: January 07, 2018, 12:05:20 PM »
I think it’s better than DM says and you should definitely read it. I guess he is just less convincing when he’s talking about recent history/now/the future whereas the stuff about early man and ancient civilisations is less familiar therefore more interesting/convincing. There’s a thread for the book here.

Danger Man

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #138 on: January 07, 2018, 06:34:19 PM »
Interesting, I've been toying with reading it, but haven't got round to it. Why does it turn to shit?

Its just a load of waffle by the end. In fairness, he's very pro-animal so you might like it more than I did.

tookish

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #139 on: January 09, 2018, 02:40:25 AM »
Still working through Mrs de Winter - blimey it's so good, I'm trying to savour it, so am taking breaks from ploughing through it to read other things.

So this week I've been reading a few things: Tamburlaine, by Christopher Marlowe (for my dissertation), Over The Rainbow: Queer Children's & Young Adult Literature, and a book I now can't remember the name of, about scriptwriting, which my tutor sent to me over Christmas. Oh, and I just finished three of the few Enid Blyton books I haven't read yet - partly because I'm recently bereaved & have the shits, and thus I need comfort, and partly because I've applied for an undergraduate showcase and am hoping to do a lecture on my 'independent research', and this is part of what I'll be lecturing on.


buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #140 on: January 10, 2018, 11:35:37 PM »
I've just started Omensetter's Luck by William H. Gass. I got The Tunnel a few years ago, having got him confused with William Gaddis (still haven't read anything by him), and although reading that was a bit of a trial at times, it hooked me enough to want me to check out more of his stuff. It's divided into three sections, the first two of which are quite short, while the third spans the vast majority of the book and is meant to be the tricky part. I read the first two sections tonight and was very impressed. It looks like it's going to be a black comedy about a small town in late nineteenth-century Ohio, albeit one that's beautifully written and often strangely bawdy. I try not to compare things to Joyce but there's definitely something Joycean here. I don't mean in that derivative way that leads everyone to try to write like Joyce either; there are stylistic similarities, of course, but I get the idea that the spirit of the book is very close to the spirit of Joyce's writing.

It's been a good start to the year so far. I began with The Answers by Catherine Lacey, which was a funny (if rather frivolous) little book about love and the difficulties that it poses. Then I carried on my endless project of reading the Delillo books I haven't yet read by moving on to Point Omega. Along with Cosmopolis and Falling Man, it has to be one of his better later novels. Like most of his more recent stuff, it is a very short and often quite cryptic book, but it somehow managed to address modern warfare in a way that was not remotely heavy-handed. The desert setting is interesting too, and it's definitely one of the more successful examples of his recent attempts to shift the action from New York to somewhere more remote. Then I read Eley Williams' excellent short story collection Attrib in an entire sitting. These are some of the best short stories I have read in recent years, particularly the ones concerning animals for some reason.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #141 on: January 11, 2018, 04:44:25 PM »
I've just finished reading Joseph Knox's follow-up to 'Sirens', The Smiling Man. I should mention at this point that I was reading a proof and that it's not actually out until March, but if you liked 'Sirens', you should definitely check this out. And if you haven't read 'Sirens', read that and then check this out. Because it's even better than 'Sirens'.

I don't want to go too deep into the plot, other than to say that the Tamam Shud case is an obvious influence - hell, it's even overtly referenced at one point and that you'd never believe that a book so stuffed with unlikeable characters could be so readable. Even Aidan Waits, our hero, is quite unlikeable, but in a somehow likeable way. You're certainly rooting for him all the way through, anyway.

Fantastic stuff.

Ray Travez

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #142 on: January 17, 2018, 08:43:10 AM »
Took me a while, but I finally finished Grass Soup by Zhang Xianling, the diary of a man interred in a Chinese forced labour camp. The grass soup of the title refers to their daily fare; grass and weeds, picked in the fields by one of the work gangs, and boiled into a weak gruel. Obviously a brutal book, but the ending was one of the saddest, most awful things I have read. A shocking ending. The book was excellent overall, fascinating and unsentimental.

After that, I read Neil Woods’ Good Cop, Bad War, an ex-undercover cop’s account of his part in the War on Drugs. Woods is now an advocate of legalisation, and the book describes his gradual journey to a realisation that the war on drugs is pointless, destructive and unwinnable.

It’s gripping. The scenes where he is bluffing murderous gangsters on pure instinct and quick-thinking are incredibly tense. His description of the scene in Brighton, where addicts are used as dealers by those higher up the chain of command, and killed by overdose if they reveal even a scrap of information about their identities is shocking. Finished it in one evening.

So now I just started Hotel K, about life in a Balinese prison. Not so keen. I like first-hand accounts, and this is written by a journalist. Some flowery language that only serves to draw attention to itself.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 11:32:29 AM by Ray Travez »

MoonDust

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #143 on: January 17, 2018, 09:55:05 AM »
I wanted to find a good book on the French Revolution, and reading up on forums and that it seemed George Lefevbre's The Coming of the French Revolution was my best bet.

Just finished reading it.

It is indeed really good and I would recommend it as an introductory book to that period of history, however I didn't realise it only covers the events of 1789 when the Third Assembly declared a constitutional monarchy.

The abolition of the monarchy and the reign of terror, right up to Napolean's coup aren't covered in this book, but the same author has written about these elsewhere in the French Revolution Vol. I & II.

I'm awaiting the delivery of John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World, his first-hand account of the Russian October Revolution.

Should be good. I've already read Trotsky's three volumes of the History of the Russian Revolution (I notice this is in Waterstone's, but it looks to be an abridged version, as it's only one book and doesn't look as thick as the three books I have) so it would be interesting to read Reed's account of it. He was a supporter of the Bolsheviks but he was a journalist and American, whereas Trotsky was Russian and a revolutionary, so I'm interested to read John Reed's account based on this difference.

MoonDust

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #144 on: January 17, 2018, 10:51:13 AM »
My book just arrived and the first thirty pages are missing, and all the introduction pages have the print all wonky. What the fuck?

It's published by Penguin too. Very bizarre.

I bought it with a voucher too so I need to see how a refund will work...

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #145 on: January 17, 2018, 11:17:40 AM »
Reed's book is brilliant, the part where he's getting a taxi round the city is my favourite. Or past the city, it's been a long time.

I've been meaning to read that Lefebvre book for ages, too. I think I read Mark Steel's, instead, as it was shorter and slightly funnier. But re: your point about the stuff it doesn't cover, it looks like he did several on overlapping periods of time, so perhaps one of his other ones will have the stuff you're interested in. I'm sure you know this. Sorry.

MoonDust

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #146 on: January 17, 2018, 11:28:29 AM »
Reed's book is brilliant, the part where he's getting a taxi round the city is my favourite. Or past the city, it's been a long time.

I've been meaning to read that Lefebvre book for ages, too. I think I read Mark Steel's, instead, as it was shorter and slightly funnier. But re: your point about the stuff it doesn't cover, it looks like he did several on overlapping periods of time, so perhaps one of his other ones will have the stuff you're interested in. I'm sure you know this. Sorry.

Sounds exciting. I've requested a replacement of Reed's book. Hopefully my missing pages is a one book error and not an entire edition error.

In the meantime I've found a PDF of his book, so I'm reading that up to the point where my physical book starts.

As for Lefebvre's book, I'd definitely recommend you get round to reading it. A very good class analysis of the events. I also didn't know until I read this that the initial stages of the revolution didn't abolish the monarchy, that only came in 1794. Before then they settled for a constitutional monarchy.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #147 on: January 17, 2018, 08:45:54 PM »
The Long Drop by Denise Mina. Brilliant. A semi-fictionalised account of the court case of one of Glasgow's most notorious serial killers, Peter Manuel. Apparently there was an ITV series a couple of years ago (In Plain Sight) about this case and I wish I'd seen it now. The book's really good at describing horrible grimy post-war Glasgow, especially the pubs and bars. Some parts of the book seem almost spat on to the page whilst Manuel, undoubtedly a cunt of the highest order, is portrayed at times in an almost sympathetic light - certainly more so than the book's other main character - and it's just a really gripping, unnerving read. Really recommend it. Think the paperback's out next month.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #148 on: January 18, 2018, 08:31:32 PM »
Sounds interesting, might check out the paperback.

Sped through Ann Patchett's Bel Canto in the last couple of days, mainly on the recommendation of a colleague who has been raving about it for years. While I wouldn't rate it as the absolute classic she obviously does, it's still pretty decent, and I'd certainly read more by Patchett.

The plot, such as it is, concerns a terrorist siege in an unnamed South American country (though it's loosely based on a real-life siege that occurred in Peru in 1996), in which, among the hostages is a famous opera singer, the Japanese businessman whose love for her music led to her being there in the first place, his translator, and a host of other characters. As the siege goes on for a while, the book mainly concerns itself with the relationships forged among the hostages, and even between them and the terrorists, as the barriers break down in a situation where real life becomes surreal life.

The characters are mainly likeable and realistic enough, and you hope that they all make it through the book alive. No spoilers, but you're told fairly early on in the book the broad outcome of the situation. The one problem I did have with the book is that everyone in the house falls under the spell of the opera singer and her singing, which seems a tad unrealistic - surely among such a large number of people there would be one or two people who, like me, if forced to listen to opera day after day might snap and take a gun from a nearby terrorist and demand a day or two of Krautrock? Also, the epilogue makes literally no sense whatsoever and ends the novel on a supremely flat note.

That aside, recommended.

Gamma Ray

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Re: I am really reading We're Going On A Bear Hunt. 4000 times a day.
« Reply #149 on: January 18, 2018, 10:04:38 PM »
I've just finished reading Joseph Knox's follow-up to 'Sirens', The Smiling Man. I should mention at this point that I was reading a proof and that it's not actually out until March, but if you liked 'Sirens', you should definitely check this out. And if you haven't read 'Sirens', read that and then check this out. Because it's even better than 'Sirens'.

Sirens was (bookreviewspeak) a remarkably assured piece of writing (/bookreviewspeak) if rather grimm in tone so I'll be interested to see how Knox ratchets that up.

March will give me enough time to finish it before Gibson publishes the sequel to The Peripheral. I thought that Richard Morgan had really upped the ante with science fiction that kicked your ass and brain in equal measure but Gibson has still got it.


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