Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 42589 times)

Johnboy

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #540 on: December 19, 2018, 11:32:18 AM »
Alan McGee - Creation Stories - it's good though I was more interested in the '80s material than what came next but that's often the way with these books, the rise is more interesting. A good read.
(Hi! this is my first post)

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #541 on: December 19, 2018, 03:57:08 PM »
Welcum! WELLLLLLLLLLLcum !!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #542 on: December 19, 2018, 09:05:59 PM »
'A Grim ALmanac of York' - a random horrible fact from history for each day of the year. Usually involving gruesome accidents down t'pit, or drunkards slashing their wife's jugular with their old-style razor, or Henry VIII being the bastard hanging, drawing and quartering citizens concerned about his smashing all the monasteries and their hospitals.

Ergo, a lot more fascinating than you'd think, and it makes you incredibly grateful for Elf and Safety and the welfare state, as the fate of the poor back them was much, much worse than now. Oh and the justice system was an ass - too lax or too severe and no prison for his lordship, ever.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #543 on: December 20, 2018, 03:45:51 PM »
The Letters of Paul Cezanne (trans. Alex Danchev). Such an interesting and complex person, this is a real treasure trove.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #544 on: December 21, 2018, 12:43:03 AM »
The Letters of Paul Cezanne (trans. Alex Danchev). Such an interesting and complex person, this is a real treasure trove.

Any examples spring to mind? I like reading collections of letters, but they always seem so huge that it puts me off taking the plunge. I know very little about Cezanne beyond his famous works.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #545 on: December 21, 2018, 02:31:14 AM »
Example of what - specific letters or how he was interesting? The letters have a wide range of tone, from the mundane to the profound. He’s quite witty - and occasionally coarse - vacillates between being flippant and deadly serious, lots of little jokes and literary allusions, insights into art and nature, anecdotes and squabbles. You can tell he was very self-aware, ahead of his time and yet also plagued by self-doubt.

In terms of why it’s interesting, Danchev writes a great intro that goes over the outdated perceptions of the man behind the paintings, often the result of older translations of the letters that were poorly done and which simplified, omitted, sanitised and misrepresented a lot of his words, and therefore thought.

It’s an ‘earthy’ translation that is similar in spirit to Robert Spaethling’s ‘Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life’ (a highly recommend collection if you’re a fan of letters of great artists). There’s a lot about the depth of his classical education and his lifetime friendship with Zola. I found the tension between his upbringing (wealthy family, expected to go into banking, embarrassed them by being an artist, they all thought his painting was a bit crap) and his subsequent lifestyle (mainly hung out with artisans and simple folk, protege of Pissarro - who was very much a ‘peasant poet’ - ascetic grappling with big themes of perception and sensation) very interesting.

As he knew so many other big 19th century names and as his work bridges styles and eras you get a good glimpse into a milieu that still seems exciting and fresh to this day. It’s full of sketches, old photographs and colour reproductions of the paintings too, which is a bonus.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #546 on: December 21, 2018, 02:07:42 PM »
Example of what - specific letters or how he was interesting?

Sorry for being vague, but your post was exactly what I was after, cheers.

Twit 2

  • Cheers, fuckface
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #547 on: December 22, 2018, 04:25:55 PM »
Ah ok, cheers.

That should have read ‘peasant painter’ not poet, obviously, for Pissaro.

On the strength of the volume I’ll probably get the translator’s biography of the artist.

timebug

  • Father of Serge
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #548 on: December 22, 2018, 05:23:29 PM »
Kate Atkinson's 'Jackson Brodie' books. Never heard of them until I was recently shown the telly version with Jason Isaacs in.
He was good,and totally believable; so I got hold of the books. First off, they are set in Cambridge. Nowt wrong with that, but on the telly version, they are set in Edinburgh! I guess STV financed or part financed the series?
As I said, Isaacs is good, and Zawe Ashton is very good as his assistant/secretary. In the books she is quite a bit older, but hey ho, when did introducing a good looking young woman ever interefere with making TV?
The telly version is called 'Case Histories' which is the name of the first of the five (so far) novels. I liked the tv version, which was the first four books (the fifth had not been published at the time) and two that were made up for telly.And it showed.
Give the books a go,and don't go out of your way to avoid the tv version. Harmless sub-Chandler,brought to a UK setting!

Dannyhood91

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #549 on: December 31, 2018, 07:41:35 PM »
Just finished Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Well good book.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #550 on: January 01, 2019, 10:41:07 PM »
Over Christmas I read John le Carré's autobiography The Pigeon Tunnel. I don't really like auto/biographies, but this one spared us the childhood and wasn't in chronological order. It's basically a collection of anecdotes about le Carré's life, some interesting, others not so much. Some great moments in there, but I found some bits, like the mini-hagiography of Alec Guinness, a little tiresome. He says at one point that the reader needn't be familiar with his books to get something from this one, but I'm not sure how true that is. For me, most of the best bits were insights into the background of his novels. One non-novel bit that's stuck in my mind was le Carré's language preparation for going on French TV, especially after finding it on youtube: https://youtu.be/7Mlz08xOGe8

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #551 on: January 02, 2019, 01:18:54 AM »
The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. Surprisingly enjoyable, got through it in one sitting.

Also re-reading a lot of Terry Pratchett.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #552 on: January 02, 2019, 05:52:39 PM »
Another Fine Mess- Tim Moore


A trip through Trump heartland in a Model T Ford. Tim Moore is one of my favourite travel writers and while this one isn't as humorous as his other books but is still very enjoyable.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #553 on: January 02, 2019, 08:02:15 PM »
Dark Tower Part III: The Wastelands.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #554 on: January 02, 2019, 11:10:15 PM »
I am reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace. It's great. A collection of short stories (or "Full-scale harassment of the short story form" as one reviewer has it), which don't have a huge amount in common apart from some sharp observations about how people use disclosure, honesty, self-deprecation (in short, the language of psychology) to manipulate others and about how (many) men are cunts. He unloads a barrage of styles and devices to tell the stories, and it is a breezy riot, full of wit and sardonic bitterness. He has a great way of setting up a dry gag with a few paragraphs of seriousness. It's quite playful, yet you feel deep down very serious for him.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #555 on: January 03, 2019, 11:55:30 AM »
Just about to start the final story in Stephen King's Different Seasons. It's the first time I've read it, although I've seen the movies made out of the first three stories. I'd always thought that the first story was called "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", but apparently not – although "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" sounds really odd to me. As in the film, the Rita Hayworth poster is one of several, so I've never really understood why her name alone is in the title.

I can now appreciate how much more neatly written the film is compared with the original story.

Maow

  • I suck on your bed covers.
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #556 on: January 03, 2019, 02:44:20 PM »
Zona by Geoff Dyer, about Tarkovsky's Stalker. I have Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic to read after that, the basis for said film.

c

  • Sandalwood by George Ezra
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #557 on: January 03, 2019, 07:01:06 PM »
Halfway through 'He' by John Connolly, about Laurel and Hardy, and about to give up.

It's written in a staccato first person that might be supposed to be macho or modern, but is actually just wearing and robs the story of any warmth or empathy. The author also has an unpleasantly judgy obsession with people's sexual partners, and their ages (we seem to being frequently told that character X is busy 'fucking' their younger wife, and so on) and how much money they're making. Because sex with young women and making money are BAD. Apparently.

I bought it because I like the musician Mark Kozelek who recently set a chapter to music. The song was boring. The book is worse.   

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #558 on: January 03, 2019, 07:35:38 PM »
Halfway through 'He' by John Connolly, about Laurel and Hardy, and about to give up.

From the excerpt on his website, it seems like the author doesn't like Chaplin very much.

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #559 on: January 04, 2019, 08:50:24 AM »
Halfway through 'He' by John Connolly, about Laurel and Hardy, and about to give up.

It's written in a staccato first person that might be supposed to be macho or modern, but is actually just wearing and robs the story of any warmth or empathy. The author also has an unpleasantly judgy obsession with people's sexual partners, and their ages (we seem to being frequently told that character X is busy 'fucking' their younger wife, and so on) and how much money they're making. Because sex with young women and making money are BAD. Apparently.

I bought it because I like the musician Mark Kozelek who recently set a chapter to music. The song was boring. The book is worse.

Oh. I've just bought this book as a present for my brother.....
Luckily I've also bought him a really cool book about David Bowie.

c

  • Sandalwood by George Ezra
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #560 on: January 04, 2019, 11:58:18 AM »
From the excerpt on his website, it seems like the author doesn't like Chaplin very much.

He doesn't like anyone very much.

Oh. I've just bought this book as a present for my brother.....
Luckily I've also bought him a really cool book about David Bowie.

Well the book does have plenty of five star reviews on Amazon, so he may get on with it still.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #561 on: January 06, 2019, 06:18:51 PM »

I've just started Happy As Murderers, about Fred and Rose West. From the first line you are voyeur to some poor soul whose life is already grim and heading somehow to even worse. I don't think I've ever read a book that just starts and tramps off into a uncomprisingly bleak world of escapeless dread.  I've found the prose weird, but it took me 50 pages to work out that he must be reproducing the vernacular of whoever was the source of the information.

non capisco

  • My valve is screaming for appeasement.
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #562 on: January 10, 2019, 08:00:56 PM »
I've just started Happy As Murderers

The only book to ever give me nightmares. 'Enjoy'!!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #563 on: January 11, 2019, 01:37:56 AM »
Been reading a bunch of things by turn of the century writer, and sexy fucker, Leonid Andreyev, who tried to take his own life in his 20s by shooting himself in the heart, and in a way succeeded, dying of the injury a couple of decades later. His sequel to the tale of Lazarus is particularly spellbinding.  After spending three days dead, Lazarus returns blue and bloated, his skin mired with cracked, weeping wounds.  Even more worrying to those around him, however, is the fact that anyone who gazes into his eyes will get to experience the mysteries of the grave and consequently lose their savour for life forever.  It's one of the finest horrors I've read.  I can understand why Tolstoy's widow wrote a long letter to the papers condemning him and his ilk.

Angrew Lloyg Wegger

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #564 on: January 12, 2019, 06:06:52 PM »
Not really much of a reader but I recently finished Cloud Atlas by the other David Mitchell based on a few mentions on here and elsewhere cause it sounded like the kind of thing i'd enjoy. Got on pretty well with it I think, Mitchell tells the stories well and does a pretty nifty job of inhabiting the different voices/styles of each story, particularly in the Pacific Islands / post-apocalyptic Hawaii chapters.
Have to be honest, I wasn't expecting the 'links' between the stories (apart from the birthmarks and the letters/journal/orison being re-discovered) to be quite as subtle and subtextual as they were, but that might just be because i'm a bit thick.
Also saw the film, which I have mixed feelings about. But i'll save that for a films thread (maybe).

timebug

  • Father of Serge
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #565 on: January 13, 2019, 10:08:14 AM »
Back in August last year, I posted that I was reading 'They All Love Jack; Busting The Ripper' by Bruce Robinson. SMBH asked me to report back when I finished it, as he had heard good reports about the book and wanted to know what I made of it.
I finished it about a week after I originally posted; the reason I have not come back on this until now, is that it is one of those books that stays with you,and you mentally analyse certain aspects of what you have read.
I normally read a book, decide whether or not I liked it, and move on. In this case, it is tricky to actually move on. The effect of the dense amount of detail contained in the book, takes some filtering and sorting, believe me. Robinson spent twelve years working on this, and it shows. The first major problem for the reader, is that BR spends a lot of the book getting digs in at every previous Ripper book, casting them in the field of 'Ripperology' which he attacks at every opportunity. Yet at the end of the day, what is THIS book, but another 'Ripperology' volume, which like it's predecessors, claims to identify the killer,and gives the authors 'evidence' to support this?
The police incompetence/cover up at the time,  is detailed and explained; there is, however, a nagging 'BUT.....' remaining.
He certainly lays his background in detail, setting the scene and the social structures that are the essential background to the story; He brings the Masons in, a theory which has been touted many times,and either believed or discounted as many times!
Robinson has produced a weighty tome, which seems to explain the killers motives, methods and psychology; it would be great if I could report that 'this is THE definitive book on Jack The Ripper'. Unfortunately, I cannot. It is a wortwhile read, if you are either a student of the existing Ripper books,or of you only ever intend to read one such book.
Do I believe that Robinson has correctly identified the killer,and explained all? Sadly, I do not. I am still working through the aspects of the story that fit, and do not fit, in my own mind. So far, the balance is comimg down harder on the 'NO' side of the equation.
A good book, well researched and detailed. It could have been 'the' definitive Ripper book; sadly, in my opinion, it is not.Still a worthwhile read for anyone interested, but there is just something that fails to utterly convimve this reader!

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #566 on: January 13, 2019, 12:05:47 PM »
Thank you for that, it does sound interesting but I think I'll add it to my "If I see it in a charity shop" list rather than the something I'll buy on Amazon straight away one.

McFlymo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #567 on: January 15, 2019, 03:44:36 AM »
I am reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace. It's great. A collection of short stories (or "Full-scale harassment of the short story form" as one reviewer has it), which don't have a huge amount in common apart from some sharp observations about how people use disclosure, honesty, self-deprecation (in short, the language of psychology) to manipulate others and about how (many) men are cunts. He unloads a barrage of styles and devices to tell the stories, and it is a breezy riot, full of wit and sardonic bitterness. He has a great way of setting up a dry gag with a few paragraphs of seriousness. It's quite playful, yet you feel deep down very serious for him.

I'm quite intrigued by this, based on your review, I think this would be right up my street. Would I be better starting with another one of his books first?

Currently reading The Story of Fats Waller, by Ed Kirkeby, which is fun so far!

I recently finished Small Victories - The True Story Of Faith No More, by Adrian Harte and realised I'd like to read more books about musicians / bands, then got intrigued by Fats Waller and the 1920s/30s era of Harlem and such, so after this Fats Waller book, I'm going to read The Harlem Renaissance, by Cheryl A. Wall.

Small Victories was great fun for any Faith No More fan boys! It covers pretty much everything from the earliest jams and band formations of the founder members in the late 70s / early 80s, right up to their reunion tours and most recent album.

Unsurprisingly, Patton doesn't feature a great deal (he notoriously avoids being interviewed) although there's a fresh angle on how he was recruited into FNM and how he contributed to The Real Thing.

There's a great level of detail, although I was left with a few questions re: Jim Martin during the Angel Dust era, but overall it's an impressive collection of facts and anecdotes.

Pingers

  • With the ill behaviour
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #568 on: January 17, 2019, 08:43:08 PM »
I'm quite intrigued by this, based on your review, I think this would be right up my street. Would I be better starting with another one of his books first?


I haven't read any of his other stuff, so no idea I'm afraid. It seemed like a good enough place to start. I deliberately didn't read much about him before reading most of it, I knew he was supposed to be a shit but wanted to experience the writing without that tainting my reading of it. I thought it was great. The person who recommended it said that he breaks all of the rules you get taught about creative writing, does all the 'don'ts'. It made me think he was kind of a literary Mark E. Smith: intuitively contrarian, constantly messing things up to stay creative and avoid becoming dull, breaking the rules, and having an unpleasant personality. I think there is quite a lot of similarity between the Fall's approach to music and DFW's writing.

I did read about him and what he had allegedly done to people before I finished it, and did find that this tarnished my enjoyment of it somewhat. I think it is possible to separate art and the artist, but some of the themes he writes about are quite hard to read in isolation from the knowledge of what he supposedly did to female partners.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 08:54:37 PM by Pingers »

Doomy Dwyer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #569 on: January 23, 2019, 08:26:38 PM »
I've just started Happy As Murderers, about Fred and Rose West. From the first line you are voyeur to some poor soul whose life is already grim and heading somehow to even worse. I don't think I've ever read a book that just starts and tramps off into a uncomprisingly bleak world of escapeless dread.  I've found the prose weird, but it took me 50 pages to work out that he must be reproducing the vernacular of whoever was the source of the information.

As the mighty non capisco says Happy Like Murderers will give you the right royal heebie jeebies, and then some. There’s something about the pure bumpkin cunning and practical barbarity of Fred and Rose that is terrifying on a whole other level. Gordon Burn went a bit troppo writing this one I seem to remember, and I can see why. The Wests were steeped in depravity, magnets for it. Mundane things became evil in their orbit. There’s a great (or, more accurately, fucking horrible) stretch in it talking about Freds fascination with excavations and being underground that has haunted me ever since I read it. It’s a very powerful piece of writing, incredible, really. I want to read it again and also never to have ever read it at the same time. Hannah Arendt called it the banality of evil, but Fred wasn’t just banal, he was a fucking dick head. A thick, smiley faced, gap toothed, frizzy haired, flares wearing, yokel illiterate tosser who also happened to be some kind of idiot savant for murder and abuse. He was also a fucking cowboy when it came to building work which just about puts the old tin lid on it as far as I’m concerned.

On the subject of murder, I have recently read Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars, the story of a doctor (Raymond la Science, if you please. Dr Raymond la fucking Science, at your service) who becomes fascinated by one of his murderous charges, the eponymous Moravagine, and aids his escape from the asylum in which he has been residing and where Dr R le S has been employed. Moravagine translates roughly - and I apologise for having to bandy about some pretty shocking language here - as ‘Death to vagina’ or ‘Death has vagina’, and he is, indeed, a murderer of women. He is a vile, twisted but charming amoral agent of chaos who spreads terror throughout Europe, Russia and God’s America. The book ends at the beginning of WW1 when “the whole world was doing a Moravagine”, which is horribly neat. For are we are not all Moravagine’s on some level? The novel is in fact a sort of exorcism of the darkness that lurked in Blaise Cendrars heart. Blaise is one of those  fascinating and deeply ambiguous and unreliable self-creations himself, an out and out bullshit merchant with one arm.

But its not all murder and mutilation. There’s hopelessness and suicide as well for I am currently reading the excellent new anthology of Mark Fishers collected and unpublished writings, K-Punk. I like and miss Mark. He’s like David Foster Wallace1, in an odd way, (see how I’m tying all this together with Pingers’ post above? Conducting this shit like Leonard fucking Bernstein over here) in that he was trying to move beyond the cynicism and irony that we’re drowning in and have been for far too long now, and striving toward some meaningfulness and positivity, a word I despise but feel no choice but to employ here. Going beyond binary, knee jerk, endless, just fucking pointless self-congratulatory noise, and engaging, discussing and even displaying a little bit of compassion. Offering alternatives and escapes. Saying that perhaps, just perhaps, there is a better way. Which is all well and good, but such thinking tends to end up with you having to stop off at the rope and rickety chair shop. We are doomed. We are the dead but not yet buried. We will not learn. Never.

On a lighter note to end, I also recently read, off the back of the lovely Don Delillo thread we had here a while ago, The Names, which was, as I suspected and had been advised, the beginning of Don’s Imperial Phase. A language / death cult critique of western homogeneity and late stage capitalism with hilarious Delilloian dialogue.

1 I am aware that DFW did some horrible things and has subsequently been cancelled. And I'm not offering excuses for him. But the best thing about his cancellation is that the type of people who cancel people are exactly the type of people who would have bought that commencement speech they released as a little boutiquey gift book type thing and possibly even given it to other fucking plankton as a life affirming book of healing magic rather than the collection of half-arsed truisms that it was and would have since found themselves cancelled for promoting the thoughts and views of an author who has been cancelled by the very people they had gifted the book to. Thus the wheel of wokeness turns. Enjoy the ninth circle of hell you vindictive pricks.2

2 I've had to make my own little footnote things, for christ's sakes. There's your Brexit Britain, people. Coming down.