Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 57406 times)

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #690 on: July 08, 2019, 03:04:52 PM »
The Vorrh Trilogy. That is to say, I have just completed The Cloven, the third book in The Vorrh Trilogy. I find it very hard to say The Vorrh Trilogy in anything other than a generic gravelly American V/O artiste voice. Which is, sadly, the only enjoyment I garnered from this massive, sprawling waste of fucking time. That’s not strictly true – I quite liked the first part. Fantasy isn’t really my thing, which is a bit of an understatement, really, but I’d been assured that The Vorrh Trilogy wasn’t Fantasy per fucking se. It was in fact a genre straddling colossus of imagination, myth and magic, a realm beyond Fantasy, if you will, a realm like and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before or would ever since. Which sounds very much like the typical type of shite Fantasy people come gibbering out with in order to lure in the naïve and trusting among us. The Vorrh Trilogy is fantasy down to it’s fucking cloven socks. And it is absolute shit.

In a genre where literally anything can happen it’s amazing how boring it is when literally anything can happen happens extremely frequently. It’s like being back at primary school playing war and you’d pretend to shoot a kid and he’d say ahhh, but I’ve got a bullet proof vest and you’d say ahhh, but I shot you in the head, and he’d say ahhh, but I’m intangible, bullets pass through me and I pass through objects like a wraith or phantom and you’d say ahhh, but these bullets are hi-tech magic bullets that make the intangible flesh and rend it accordingly with poison spikes and claws and then he’d say ahhh but I’m a shapeshifting vampire from beyond time, immune to earth’s puny dimensionality and able to control all past present and future events, and you’d just go bollocks then and fuck off home, which is what I should have done, but I didn’t because the first part was intriguing and although the second part sagged massively I was certain that the third would rise up Lazarlike and redeem what had gone before, but it didn’t, it got worse by the page and now I’m thirty fucking bar down on the deal, have wasted hours that will never ever return and can’t help but feel as though I’ve betrayed something fundamental and irreplaceable within myself. If you see a bookshop selling these books, burn it down. 

On a more positive note, I am currently reading The Posthuman Dada Guide by Andrei Codrescu which is about, among other things, an imaginary chess game which didn't take place between Tristan Tzara and V.I Lenin in Zurich in 1916.
 

Ah. I've only read the first installment of The Vorrh books and found myself thinking about it a lot afterwards, so I was going to get stuck into the others at some point. Maybe I'll reconsider. I can see how the style could become plodding after a while so... Hmm. Plenty of other stuff to turn to.

That Codrescu book looks excellent - I will check it out. Thanks for mentioning it, I doubt I'd have stumbled across it otherwise.

Doomy Dwyer

  • This demeans us all
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #691 on: July 08, 2019, 06:01:33 PM »
It's just such a shame because The Vorrh was great, I thought, totally won me over. But it just dissipates so sharply. There's fuck all in the way of characterisation and far, far too many instances of something awesome and magical happening without any explanation or foreshadowing just to get the author out of the corner he's painted himself into. And it goes on and on, which would be fine if we were made to care about the characters and their motivations, but they're barely one dimensional. Even on the last pages I was checking which character was which and, bearing in mind that this book features a cyclops, William Blake and an angel who believes himself to be Nicholas Parsons, it should be fairly easy to pick out who is who. But, nooooo. There's some really creepy, cringy sexy stuff, too, real sixth form shite. It either needs to be a much shorter book or much longer so Catling can flesh out all his ideas. As is stands it's a betrayal of his vision. There, I've said it.

It may be just me, because I don't much care for Fantasy. But I went about this with a pure heart and an open mind and look where that got me. They're laughing at me.   

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #692 on: July 08, 2019, 08:48:24 PM »
I liked the first Vorrh book, I recall. But that was about four, five years ago and I’ve never been tempted to read the others. I think that the conceit and style were already tiring by the end of the first.

Panbaams

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #693 on: July 11, 2019, 11:34:51 AM »
Halfway to Hollywood, Michael Palin's second volume of diaries.

It's been a while since I read the first volume. I'd forgotten what a relentless complainer John Cleese is.

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #694 on: July 14, 2019, 01:17:05 PM »
Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer. I generally dislike him and his book on Stalker, Zona, I think I actually hate. As a chronic procrastinator I thought I’d see what he had to say about it, but he ruins his mediation on it in the same way he ruined what’s special about Tarkovsky. It’s just repetitive, self-indulgent twaddle. Ahhh, but isn’t that the point, isn’t it all so terribly clever and witty? No.

It comes, of course, with plaudits saying how ‘howlingly, screamingly funny’ it is. In publishing lingo this apparently means ‘you may emit a wry chuckle every 50 pages or so’.

Has anyone met him? I bet/hope he’s a prick.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #695 on: July 14, 2019, 03:25:03 PM »
I saw a stack of Chuck Klosterman books in a charity shop the other day, so I thought I'd give em a go. I was moderately entertained by a few of his recent articles, and they were cheap. Fargo Rock City was tolerable, and then Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs was just a straight up collection of essays.

Americans love an essayist, for some reason, and he's no better or worse than any other I've tried to read (virtually every book by a comedian, for one). He relies on you agreeing with everything he says, because his writing isn't quite good enough to convince you otherwise. The thing about how football was shit could have been replaced by that "old man yells at cloud" picture, and I've decided life is too short to force myself through any more of his writing.

I know this may be heresy, but I'm feeling the same way about "Bone". I've had the complete collection on a shelf for years, and started on it a few days ago. Given how adored it is, I can only assume I'm reading it too quickly, and need to give one chapter a go then put it down for a few days. It's not bad, as such, but I don't love it as much as I was expecting. So, I'm going to pop it back on the shelf, leave the bookmark in it and come back in a week or so.

Next up, the Gormenghast trilogy, another one I've been meaning to read for years.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #696 on: July 16, 2019, 12:31:17 AM »
Got a few on the go.

Moby- Then It Fell Apart. This is great, really enjoying it. I've ordered his previous one from the library. Moby intersplices scenes from his fucked up dad-less childhood, with scenes from his fucked-up stripper-shagging highlife. Hard not to like him in his relentless scathing honesty about his various failings as a human being.

Oliver Bullough- Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back- slowly grinding through this. There's a sense of "Oh of course. That's why everything's all fucked up". Thoroughly depressing.

Simon Goddard- The Smiths- Songs That Saved Your Life Bit of light reading.

gilbertharding

  • Not even the rudest man in the Beatles
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #697 on: July 16, 2019, 04:54:14 PM »
Vanity Fair (the novel, not the magazine).

Could easily be another addition to the list of books I've started to read thinking they'll be really good before putting them down about 1/3rd of the way through having realised that literally none of it is 'going in' (see also Catch 22, Tristram Shandy, Ulysses, Don Quixote etc).

Thank goodness for the recent ITV adaptation, without which I'd be completely lost.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #698 on: July 17, 2019, 09:37:52 AM »
I almost had reading well and truly ruined for me by running a reading group for 4 years, however having taken a break from the group for a bit I'm slowly getting back into it, and am just finishing This is A Book About Kids In The Hall by John Semley. It's a bit breathless fanboy but it's an interesting insight in places too, although it does leave you wishing one or all of them had written it instead. Turns out Bruce McCullough has written a few books too so they're probably next.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 09:50:12 AM by icehaven »

samadriel

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #699 on: July 18, 2019, 07:44:16 AM »
edit bug, I think.

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #700 on: July 20, 2019, 08:13:27 PM »
Borges’s The Book of Imaginary Beings. Fun stuff.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #701 on: July 29, 2019, 08:48:42 AM »
Don DeLillo's Underworld, which I started once when I was about 20 and abandoned quickly having made neither head nor tail of any of it, but which I am this time, at about 500 of 800 pages, finding a magnificent experience. Difficult to connect with at times but so beautifully written and so full of insight and vivid scenes that it keeps me with it.

I also read, yesterday, the first half of Alan Garner's memoir Where Shall We Run To? and enjoyed it a lot. Scenes from Garner's childhood outside Manchester, written in a matter-of-fact, child's perspective which makes it evocative, surprising, and free from overdone nostalgic mistiness.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #702 on: July 30, 2019, 12:54:05 PM »
Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer. I generally dislike him and his book on Stalker, Zona, I think I actually hate. As a chronic procrastinator I thought I’d see what he had to say about it, but he ruins his mediation on it in the same way he ruined what’s special about Tarkovsky. It’s just repetitive, self-indulgent twaddle. Ahhh, but isn’t that the point, isn’t it all so terribly clever and witty? No.

It comes, of course, with plaudits saying how ‘howlingly, screamingly funny’ it is. In publishing lingo this apparently means ‘you may emit a wry chuckle every 50 pages or so’.

Has anyone met him? I bet/hope he’s a prick.

Out of sheer rage is probably my favourite ever book. He seems unpopular on here, for some reason, but I find him incredibly funny and clever.

The stuff about Italy is superb. Makes me laugh out loud every time when he documents getting a taxi with a taciturn Sicilian soldier.

I will concede that his girlfriend seems annoying. I imagine her talking with a painfully posh voice.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #703 on: July 30, 2019, 09:44:34 PM »
I find Dyer fairly amusing and interesting, but also smug and a bit knobby when he's doing his articles or lighter stuff (although he does have some self-awareness about it all), but I did think his books on photography and jazz were hugely impressive - man knew what he was talking about, and talked about it beautifully.

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #704 on: July 30, 2019, 10:12:57 PM »
I do like ‘But Beautiful’, to be fair. Out of Sheer Rage does have some good bits, the aforementioned part about Italy being funny. I think I just find his deliberately repetitive prose style annoying. I think he’s ripped it off Bernhard but I haven’t read enough Bernhard yet to know.

The passage about his girlfriend’s (can’t be that posh as he says she’s American) cunt (his word) on the beach in Mexico seemed rather dodgy. I wonder what she made of that section?

Part of me is probably just jealous he got to bum around European cities being writerly and doing fuck all. I wonder how he could afford to do that considering he comes from humble working class roots. Maybe journalism paid a lot more then...

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #705 on: July 30, 2019, 11:21:02 PM »
I do like ‘But Beautiful’, to be fair. Out of Sheer Rage does have some good bits, the aforementioned part about Italy being funny. I think I just find his deliberately repetitive prose style annoying. I think he’s ripped it off Bernhard but I haven’t read enough Bernhard yet to know.

The passage about his girlfriend’s (can’t be that posh as he says she’s American) cunt (his word) on the beach in Mexico seemed rather dodgy. I wonder what she made of that section?

Part of me is probably just jealous he got to bum around European cities being writerly and doing fuck all. I wonder how he could afford to do that considering he comes from humble working class roots. Maybe journalism paid a lot more then...

Yeah, bit weird when he starts imagining her pissing in his mouth. Not really sure what was going on there.

I think he’s being deliberately provocative when he talks about money, freedom etc. There’s a bit where he talks about being able to live anywhere in the world being a far worse state of affairs than if he had to choose somewhere because of work, but it’s all surely underpinned by a certain knowingness, as though he knows the reader will object but will argue his perspective all the same.

As to the last point, he got a scholarship to Oxford didn’t he? I’m always slightly suspicious of these- my school offered no such things- but I do believe him about his upbringing. Seems uncharacteristic for him to lie about it. 

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #706 on: July 30, 2019, 11:33:51 PM »
I’m sure he’s being truthful about his upbringing, which is why I don’t understand how he could afford the lifestyle depicted in the book. He boasts about not working and from his background he’s not being bankrolled by parents/trust funds...maybe just leeching off the rich American girlfriend, then. Obviously he’s well established and successful now, but the book covers his late twenties/early thirties when he hadn’t built all that up.

Anyway, a frustrating writer because I feel I should like him more, and I do get what he’s doing and he does it well but it just rubs me up the wrong way most of the time.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #707 on: July 30, 2019, 11:41:35 PM »
Yeah, I can see why he would infuriate people. There’s something ungallant and cunty about his need to boast about effortlessly charming women in Yoga... too. But, I don’t know, I think his dislikability, or more generously his desire to be honest instead of modest, adds to the overall package for me. His writing hits me- in that ‘holy fuck, I thought it was just me that thought like that!’ way- more than any other author I can think of.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #708 on: August 01, 2019, 10:08:20 PM »
Have to say I really do love Dyer.

Out of Sheer Rage was the first thing I read, and as a frustrated writer it really grabbed me and made me laugh. But Beautiful is very different, though. To me a serious and gorgeous and special book.

Completely get the objections to the ease with which he seems to move through life - particularly as I read most of his stuff while living in London earning not much more than minimum wage.

But I think it's actually one of the things that appeals to me about his stuff. I read his books as a kind of pure escapism. In the same way I watch Arrested Development and Seinfeld to assure myself that the world is not the terrifying, serious place it sometimes seems, and that there are ways to glide through and not care or be affected. I tend to read one any time I go on holiday as they're a kind of singular pleasure in that regard.

He definitely did live on the dole for years and years after finishing university (his first novel, The Colour of Memory, covers this period - and is really sweet about being young and broke [in a time in Britain when that wasn't such a terrible lifestyle]. There's something so wistful and joyous about his boozy picnics on the roofs of high-rises with people he barely knows and won't see again). And he did seem to have naturally, casually and easily fallen in to writing. I would guess he just has that kind of personality?

It's improbable but not impossible. My mum and dad left school at 16 and worked in the same hospital/factory their whole lives, in what some would call the Brexit capital of England. I was a poor student, went to a poly, scraped a pass and left up to my tits in debt. I worked for ten years after in minimum wage jobs, writing in evenings and weekends, and now write full time for a very fair wage which has allowed me to travel. I only say this because even here in the reading thread I very much doubt anyone would have read my stuff, but I'm 32 and completely unconnected and it's my job. It must happen more than we think.

I totally buy that certain people just responded to his voice, and, probably, to his self-fulfilling ease.

Blinder Data

  • Use your library
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #709 on: August 02, 2019, 10:12:45 AM »
I WAS reading The Knives by Richard T Kelly, a political thriller about a fictional Home Secretary. I enjoyed it, though some of the characters strayed a little close to stereotypes and the various plot strands didn't quite come together as I was hoping.

Now reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. Might start a thread about this phenomenon as I imagine people on CaB hate it. I expected to find it annoying à la David Nicoll's One Day but actually it's very well observed and does a lot with a little, which I admire. Characters are engaging so far and it's hard to put down. She's a tad younger than me so I'm in the sweet spot in terms of audience receptiveness though.

Jerzy Bondov

  • Coffee goes in, sarcasm comes out!
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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #710 on: August 02, 2019, 10:21:44 AM »
'I'm reading The Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson'
'With a naked woman on the cover?'
'The very same.'
'And how is it?'
'It has lots of dialogue like this.'
'We have dialogue like this.'
'I know.'
'Is it meant to be witty?'
'A bit.'
'After a few lines I lose track of who is saying what.'
'And who is saying "what?"'
'Me. All the time. Trying to read dialogue like this.'
'Then stop trying.'
'I'm trying.'

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #711 on: August 02, 2019, 10:13:24 PM »
Number 11 by Jonathan Coe - I went off Coe after not getting on with The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim but I was bookless when out and about recently, passed an Oxfam and picked this up, and it turns out I was an idiot for stopping reading his work just because I didn't like one novel as this is fantastic stuff, a great deal of fun but rather thoughtful too.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman - Another charity shop buy, I wasn't expecting much but it's pretty damn strong, being both funny and a real insight in to her life. Towards the end it gets a bit bland but the first four fifths are really enjoyable.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #712 on: August 06, 2019, 09:29:09 PM »
Finished 'The Wind in the Snottygobble Tree' by Jack Trevor Story and started his 'Morag's Flying Fortress'.

Captain Crunch

  • Twister, Dustbuster, Hospital Bed
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #713 on: August 07, 2019, 11:17:07 PM »
Now reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. Might start a thread about this phenomenon as I imagine people on CaB hate it.

Please do this.  I read it recently and had no idea it was a ‘thing’. 

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #714 on: August 08, 2019, 02:10:50 PM »
Just finished White by Bret Easton Ellis, his first full length non-fiction book (I think anyway). Reads in part a bit like an extended domestic tbh as it seems he doesn't like how his younger boyfriend expresses his political beliefs so paints him and others like him as stamping, wailing liberals childishly furious at Trump's victory, while simultaneously being careful to make it clear he isn't pro-Trump himself. He isn't pro-anything really, other than pro-slagging his (ex?) partner off.

There were a few interesting sections, including about Patrick Bateman (although I daresay they've all been said before) but overall it reminded me a bit of Morrissey's biog in how he gets carried away with recounting (usually Twitter based) spats most readers won't give a shit about and caricaturing his detractors as unreasonable and swivel eyed in the face of his cool clever detachment. Overall it's made me like him less.

Tldr; Yet another person who should really take more breaks from Twitter.

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #715 on: August 08, 2019, 02:52:28 PM »
Waiting for the Albino Dunnock: How Birds Can Change Your Life by Rosamond Richardson. A nice effort but doesn’t add much to the nature writing canon, definitely 2nd tier stuff. Her references are broad but I mostly knew all the stuff anyway cos I’m just so fucking well read already. To me (and presumably most fans and writers of this stuff) there are 3 masterpieces: The Peregrine, The Living Mountain and Arctic Dreams. It’s very hard to better those, although plenty try. I find their imitators write interchangeable stuff like this bit from the book:

Quote
Reeds made squiggly lines in the water, masts and rigging of sleeping boats impaled an orange sky splashed with magenta and lavender and blue. The orb of the sun turned to gold. A family of great crested grebe floated in silhouette on water ablaze in a final fling of tomato-red and violet. Sunset in the water, Ruskin’s opening to eternity, fading into darkness as the flames of day melted into blue dark.

Meh.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 05:37:50 PM by Twit 2 »

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #716 on: August 08, 2019, 05:41:27 PM »
Reading the already-notorious Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann. It's certainly an acquired taste (not to mention a big brick of a book) but I'm really enjoying it. Much of it is lists, but there is a real sense of character development that gets teased out through them without rehashing the sort of stream of consciousness stuff that has been going on for over a century. Ellmann's dad wrote a seminal, if flawed, biography of James Joyce and I've noticed a lot of people comparing the book to the 'Penelope' chapter of Ulysses. There are similarities - partly because it's all a woman thinking with barely any sentence breaks, and the phrase 'the fact that' forms a marker in the way 'yes' does in 'Penelope' - but like a lot of comparisons, it does the writer a bit of a disservice. At the very least, there are other bits of Ulysses that loom at least as large here; the long lists of 'Cyclops' (which themselves are pisstakes of similar lists in Irish epics like the Táín Bó Cúailnge), the long, tortuous sentences of 'Eumaeus' and the dense mishmash of (often inaccurate) facts in 'Ithaca'. Even so, there's something different here. While the variety of Ulysses means that it's easy to read on even if certain chapters bore the fuck out of you, this is a very stylistically uncompromising book. Apart from short sections ever 100 or so pages that describe the maternity of a mountain lion, the same style dominates. It certainly isn't for everyone, but I'm having a really good time reading it.

QDRPHNC

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #717 on: August 08, 2019, 06:12:26 PM »
I've been introducing someone to Seinfeld and really enjoying going back through them in order. Just finished Seinfeldia, which is a mostly-interesting retelling of how the show got made and it's lasting influence, with a lot of curious anecdotes I'd never heard before. Ends on a bit of a whimper, but it's a breezy read and recommended to anyone who's a fan of the show, or curious about the process behind it which made it different from everything else on TV.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #718 on: August 09, 2019, 10:56:46 AM »
Reading the already-notorious Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann. It's certainly an acquired taste (not to mention a big brick of a book) but I'm really enjoying it. Much of it is lists, but there is a real sense of character development that gets teased out through them without rehashing the sort of stream of consciousness stuff that has been going on for over a century. Ellmann's dad wrote a seminal, if flawed, biography of James Joyce and I've noticed a lot of people comparing the book to the 'Penelope' chapter of Ulysses. There are similarities - partly because it's all a woman thinking with barely any sentence breaks, and the phrase 'the fact that' forms a marker in the way 'yes' does in 'Penelope' - but like a lot of comparisons, it does the writer a bit of a disservice. At the very least, there are other bits of Ulysses that loom at least as large here; the long lists of 'Cyclops' (which themselves are pisstakes of similar lists in Irish epics like the Táín Bó Cúailnge), the long, tortuous sentences of 'Eumaeus' and the dense mishmash of (often inaccurate) facts in 'Ithaca'. Even so, there's something different here. While the variety of Ulysses means that it's easy to read on even if certain chapters bore the fuck out of you, this is a very stylistically uncompromising book. Apart from short sections ever 100 or so pages that describe the maternity of a mountain lion, the same style dominates. It certainly isn't for everyone, but I'm having a really good time reading it.

Yeah, same here. Kindle tells me I’Mate% in and there’s been times when I’ve shuddered at the slog ahead, but to actually read it, it’s been fun, fairly breezy and amusing. (I love her rifts on language).

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #719 on: August 09, 2019, 10:58:12 AM »
I've been introducing someone to Seinfeld and really enjoying going back through them in order. Just finished Seinfeldia, which is a mostly-interesting retelling of how the show got made and it's lasting influence, with a lot of curious anecdotes I'd never heard before. Ends on a bit of a whimper, but it's a breezy read and recommended to anyone who's a fan of the show, or curious about the process behind it which made it different from everything else on TV.

The end is just the stuff about the Modern Seinfeld twitter account isn’t it? Another example of somebody unaware how boring twitter is to those of us not addicted.