Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 135729 times)

samadriel

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #990 on: August 01, 2020, 12:42:04 PM »
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Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #991 on: August 04, 2020, 11:25:49 PM »
Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff - Jane Charlotte is supposedly an undercover operative for a mysterious organisation dedicated to wiping out evil, but if that's the case, why did she murder someone she shouldn't have? And why is she spilling the beans to a concerned Doctor? It's a fantastical affair, and very fast moving, but perhaps occasionally too much so and it could have done with sometimes slowing down a little bit and taking a second to breathe. There's an aspect of the ending I didn't think quite worked either (what if Phillip hadn't tried to blow Jane up? What would have happened then?) but otherwise I found it satisfying, the story is a gripping one, and it's a strong work that I enjoyed it a fair bit overall. 3.75/5

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #992 on: August 05, 2020, 03:06:26 AM »
The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams.

Pretty painful, tear inducing reading for me due to the subject matter but I liked it all the same. The idea of a fox speaking in geordie made me quite happy, as well as Adams' not-so-subtle digs at how pointless and shite these people and these experiments are. The ending is a bit silly and mawkish but I needed it to be honest, and there are lovely descriptions of the Lake District scenery I enjoyed.

Still, "it's a bad world for animals", and that's how it goes. It hasn't gotten much better, if at all.

Sad now, Watership Down next.

dr beat

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #993 on: August 06, 2020, 05:42:53 PM »
Currently finishing off Mars By 1980 by David Stubbs.  Beautifully written history of electronic music, and I really need to build a playlist to consult.

Roger Faligot Chinese Spies which I've mentioned on another thread.

Once I've done these the next I have planned are:

Kim Ghattas Black Wave - a history of the evolution of the Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry.

George Orwell The Road to Wigan Pier - the story is that a family member was a miner and trade unionist in Wigan and befriended Orwell when he was writing this.  Said family member was disappointed with the final version feeling it came as across as sneery.  From what I've previewed so far, I wouldn't say that but Orwell's priveleged position is quite obvious and it comes across as patronising.

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #994 on: August 07, 2020, 03:19:32 AM »
Watership Down by Richard Adams (I don't read much okay!)

I watched Watership Down as a child in the late 90s and I will never ever forget it; the violence, the general sense of foreboding, the blood fields and, of course, the haunting Bright Eyes (to the point, to this day, elicits a pavlovian response of uncontrollable sobbing).

So I was quite surprised how pleasant the read was, it was quite fun as an adult. I don't think I'd have wanted to read this as a child due to the bits of violence and the like but compared to the film it'd be a doddle. Adams genuinely seems to understand rabbits and it comes across well in the writing with the constant threat of danger they face as well and their idleness when digging. I like that stuff.

Good read.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #995 on: August 07, 2020, 11:42:26 PM »
Witches Of Lychford by Paul Cornell - A novella from Cornell about two witches and a vicar from the small town of Lychford, though I suppose that title wouldn't quite have been so catchy. It feels very similar to his Shadow Police series which I quite liked, but it takes too long to get going and then is over with all too quickly. It's a fun enough idea, the characters gradually become likeable (though certainly don't start off that way) and the setting makes it different from his other magic based series at least, but it needed fleshing out, and it's a shame it wasn't a full length novel instead of a novella. 3.25/5

Thomas

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #996 on: August 07, 2020, 11:54:43 PM »
Just finished Peter Davison's autobiography Is There Life Outside the Box?: An Actor Despairs. Peter comes off quite pleasantly. Tom Baker, in his handful of graceless appearances, comes off as a biblical egomaniac.

Sin Agog

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #997 on: August 09, 2020, 02:03:47 AM »
Been reading a lot of Anna Kavan recently after I finally worked out how to loan books from the openlibrary via my internet archive account.  She was an almost lifelong heroin addict who, I dunno if it was through her addiction or if it was something innate in her personality, had an in with some truly otherwordly imagery.  And yet everything she wrote was intensely autobiographical- that needle turns up in countless forms.  Really glad I finally got around to reading her.  I know she's compared to Kafka a lot, but, despite starting one of her short story collections by describing her bloodied corpse drowning the world in her endless viscera, uh...there's something so much more life-affirming about her.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #998 on: August 10, 2020, 10:48:15 AM »
Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay - More of Kay's diaries from his time as a doctor, covering the lead up to and Christmas itself, and full of very funny and occasionally grim stories about life on the Obstetrics ward. There's not much I can say really, it's just as good as the first book, and my only complaint is that it's a bit short. 4/5

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #999 on: August 10, 2020, 12:24:23 PM »
I read A Short introduction for to learne to Swimme. Gathered out of Master Digbies Booke of the Art of Swimming. And translated into English for the better instruction of those who vnderstand not the Latine tongue. by Christofer Middleton. This is a brief compendium of Digby's swimming lessons intended for people who couldn't follow the Latin instructions but wanted to learn to swimme at the end of the 16th century. The online version doesn't show the pictures so it's necessary to read it alongside the original book on archive.org. I've tried to match up the pictures from the original text with the descriptions in the English compendium.

The main part of the book shows the ways of swimming and achieving tasks and positions in the water:

Quote
To roule vpon ones backe.

This is done onely by lying straight vpon his backe, & pressing downe the water with his hands, so may he roule from side to side, like a ship in the Sea, as thus.



Quote
To make a circle in the water with his feete.

This is done as we saide afore, by lying straight vpon his backe, without bending any part of his body, & if he will turne from the right hand, then must he lie somewhat ouer vpon hys left side, and first of all pull his right legge out of the water, and afterwards his left as fast as he can, and strike with them to∣ward the left hand, one after another, and about one foote, one before another, which will turne his bodie round, and make his head lye in the midst, like the center of a circle, as thus.



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To stand vpright, and turne about in the water.

He must by stirring of his feete vp and downe in the water keepe vp his bodie, and keeping his hands vnderneath the water, pull the water towards him, that way which he would turne, and so also incline the motion of his feete, as thus.



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To stroake his legge as if he were pulling on a boote.

This is nothing els but lying straight vpon his backe, as are all the other extraordinarie feates, and suddenly lifting one leg aboue the water, stroake with both his hands in this manner.




Quote
To shew foure parts of his body aboue the water at once.

He must lie straight vpon his backe, and lay one legge ouer the other knee, so that the vppermost knee may easily be seene aboue the water, then hee must, setting his hands on his brest, hold vp his elbowes aboue the water, & so he shall at once show his head, his elbowes, and one knee, as thus.



I like the abstract aspect of some of the shapes. To stand upright and turn about looks like the Vitrvian man shrinking and floating away from the centre. Here are three of the most practical lessons:

Quote
To pare his toes in the water.

Swimming vpon his backe, let him drawe vp his left foote, and lay it ouer his right knee, still keeping his body very straight and then hauing a knife readie in his right hand, he may easilie kéepe vp his legge vntill he hath pared one of his toes, as thus.



Quote
To carrie any thing drie ouer the water in his hands.

This is onely done by swimming vpon his backe, and stray∣ning himselfe to lye straight with his body, so that he holde his armes straight vp, which will else force him to bend his bodie, and so he shall sincke, and holding his armes vpward as afore, he may easilie carrie, or recarry, any thing ouer the water with∣out wetting, as for example.



Quote
To seeke any thing that is lost in the water.

He must swimme vnder the water as afore, but as néere the bottome as he can, so that he touch it not, least he raise any mud to thicken the water, his eyes open, that he may sée where it lyeth, and if so be that he haue any occasion to turne him selfe, or to seeke round about, as thinking himselfe neere the thing he sée∣keth, if he will turne towards the left hand, he must with hys right hand, pull towards him the water which is on his left side, which will easilye turne him about, as this picture next follow∣ing sheweth by example.

But thus much to him which learneth to diue, let him neuer swimme further then he can see the bottome, for it is either very déepe, or els he is vnder some baucke, or in some such daunger.



This last one makes me think of William Blake's later appropriation of the Vitruvian man in his paintings.

The beginning of the book gives advice about the place and time to swimme and warns the student against rudely leaping with the feet downward into cold water when sweating; falling in upon one side; and lastly that in 'leaping from the banck, and casting forth his leggs (but yet keeping of them close together) hee may light vpon his hippes, and the hinder parts of his leggs'.




There are some nice comparisons of the animals in the first part, including the sunny and melancholy dispositions of the Cock and the Duck:

Quote
But some kindes of Foules, although they bee of a good constitution of bo∣dy, yet for some impediment in their forme, are hindered and doe not swimme so well as other, whose bodies are more grosse, as the Cock which is the bird of the sunne, for that he wanteth (as we call them) the webs of his feete, swimmeth not so easily as a Duck which is more melancholy and heauy by nature, according to the disposition of Saturne.

And comparisons throughout of the human swimming technique with the swimming technique of other animals: To turne in the water like a Roach.; 'labouring to and fro like the finne of a Fishe' in To strike the superficies of the water.; 'in this hee rudely beateth the water with his hands and féete' in To swim like a dog. ('Into this kinde of swimming many doe at the first fall, before they perfectly learne the right stroake'); and the last lesson, To swimme like a Dolphin.: 'This is nothing els, but in diuing to lift his head aboue the water, & when he hath breathed, presently diue down againe, as afore.'

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1000 on: August 11, 2020, 11:05:25 AM »
Brilliant stuff! Love your posts on literature, keep it up!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1001 on: August 11, 2020, 02:38:04 PM »
Great stuff, SR! After all that swimming, how about a nice cold bath?
https://archive.org/details/psychrolousiaor00bayngoog/page/n6/mode/2up

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1002 on: August 12, 2020, 12:03:54 AM »
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Only two pages in and i'm tired. The writing style back then was just so long winded, I don't know how people had the attention span for it.
As well as reading an incredibly, as it were, long sentence, while littering them with, as it were, commas, in place of full, as it were, stops.

We must keep on trucking but i'm just finding myself still struggling with reading; understanding what is going on, skimming, mind flitting to something else, mentally drained after a page or two. I know its probably linked with my abysmal, unreated mental health but still, reading is reading.

How long are you meant to give a book before you put it down and read something else? The completionist in me wants to finish it and I dont want to give up after a few pages but jesus.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 12:15:12 AM by bgmnts »

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1003 on: August 12, 2020, 12:50:16 AM »
Have a look at Book V Chapter 5- it's a stand-alone short story called The Grand Inquistor and it's good.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1004 on: August 12, 2020, 01:43:29 AM »
Cheers!

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1005 on: August 12, 2020, 09:10:09 AM »
I had a similar experience with him the other night, except it was an audiobook, not a silentbook. I didn't have it on for long.

I used to feel like if I started something I had to finish it, but now I will just stop if I don't like it. There's so much stuff I want to read; I don't want to 'waste time' with stuff that doesn't interest me.

If you want another Russian writer try Chekhov. He came a little later than Dostoevsky and his writing is (maybe because of what came before) leaner. The few short stories I've read have been great. I really like this one:

https://www.classicshorts.com/stories/slander.html


There are four more by him and loads by others on this page:

https://www.classicshorts.com/bib.html#Anton_Pavlovich_Chekhov
« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 09:34:03 AM by Scarlet Intangible »

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1006 on: August 12, 2020, 10:21:53 AM »
Could the writing style problem be to do with the translation? The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation is one that most people seem to prefer nowadays and that one uses brackets a lot. The Constance Garnett translation is a much older one with more reliance on commas and an older-fashioned vocabulary. There are some other recent translations besides the Pevear and Volokhonsky one. It would only make a big difference if you've been reading the Constance Garnett translation.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1007 on: August 12, 2020, 12:13:46 PM »
I read it when I was 18 - the Garnett translation and I managed okay. Even Father Zosima's ramblings!

Tried again about twenty years later and really struggled. Wonder if I missed a load the first time round.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1008 on: August 12, 2020, 01:24:25 PM »
Cheers for the suggestions!

This is a 2003 Penguin edition translated by David McDuff. It's probably just me being a baby, I struggled the same with Victor Hugo, just SO long winded and waffly, with the longest, most cumbersome sentences I've ever read. I will get through it though, just to get through my collection.

Chekhov is on the list though.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1009 on: August 13, 2020, 03:07:30 PM »
Could the writing style problem be to do with the translation? The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation is one that most people seem to prefer nowadays and that one uses brackets a lot. The Constance Garnett translation is a much older one with more reliance on commas and an older-fashioned vocabulary. There are some other recent translations besides the Pevear and Volokhonsky one. It would only make a big difference if you've been reading the Constance Garnett translation.
I've liked the translations of theirs I've read, and Pevear's apparently solo translation of "The Three Musketeers" is fantastic.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1010 on: August 30, 2020, 08:29:16 PM »
Hits & Misses by Simon Rich - A selection of short stories from the Miracle Workers and Man Seeking Woman creator about the nature of success and fame, they're once again a very funny bunch. Rich's imagination and ability to come up with unusual scenarios while making them feel very believable, and often laugh out loud funny, impresses me no end, and they're all a delight to read while containing some thoughtful ideas too. 4/5

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1011 on: September 01, 2020, 10:34:01 PM »
All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman - A very short novella about a world of very unusual superheroes, and the relationship between one of them and a normal man, which goes horribly wrong when a jealous ex makes it impossible for her to see him. Funny, weird, sweet and genuinely affecting, I loved this to the extent that the moment I finished it I went online to buy one of his other novels. 4.5/5

Inspector Norse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1012 on: September 02, 2020, 09:27:45 PM »
The writing style back then was just so long winded, I don't know how people had the attention span for it.
As well as reading an incredibly, as it were, long sentence, while littering them with, as it were, commas, in place of full, as it were, stops.

Perfectly valid criticism, or, perhaps, personal aesthetic issue, with regard to the classics. They are often, to the reader used to or keener on modern style, incredibly bloody wordy.

I started reading Within the Walls, the first of Giorgio Bassani's post-war novels about Ferrara, but am on the brink of abandoning it after three or four days and only about 60 pages, because the man will not use one clause or adjective when eight will do. It's plain tiring trudging through endless, waffly sentences like this, full of repetition and redundancy:

Quote
This last fact having been firmly established, and since at this point was clear that when he'd converted he'd hardly even considered it - what's more, with his growing success as a doctor in both the city and the province, he conferred distinction on his shared origins, and his kin sooner or later would enjoy the benefits - at little more than forty years old, apart from being head of the Sant'Anna Hospital, he had become personal physician to the Duchess Costabili, by far the most chic and influential woman of Ferrara, leaving aside that after the premature death of her consort he was perhaps something more than just a personal physician to the duchess... So for everything else he could be excused, justified and, in certain particular cases, even applauded.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1013 on: September 04, 2020, 05:18:20 PM »
Calypso by David Sedaris - I've been fond of Sedaris for a while now but felt "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" was a fairly bland affair, like he was beginning to run out of interesting stories to tell, but after finding this in a charity shot I thought I'd give him another shot. I'm glad I did too, it's a much stronger work than Owls, and a fair bit darker too, mainly as it deals with his sister Tiffany's suicide and how that effected the family. He also tackles mortality and his own ageing, along with his relationship with his father, in very funny ways, and it was a real return to form. 4/5

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1014 on: September 05, 2020, 08:53:52 AM »
The problem I have with Sedaris is that because he writes so personally, his wealth is a recurring topic. He handles it well for the most part, but when he's casually buying beach houses and linen pants that 'cost more than a MacBook Air' it can seem ostentatious. I was impressed by his frankness about his sister's death, though.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1015 on: September 05, 2020, 10:55:21 AM »
The problem I have with Sedaris is that because he writes so personally, his wealth is a recurring topic. He handles it well for the most part, but when he's casually buying beach houses and linen pants that 'cost more than a MacBook Air' it can seem ostentatious. I was impressed by his frankness about his sister's death, though.

That rankled with me and there were definitely a couple of times I struggled with it as well, the fact that he's desperate to stay in his father's will felt bizarre given his own immense wealth too, but thankfully it was only a minor factor and didn't spoil the book for me.

Captain Crunch

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1016 on: September 05, 2020, 12:25:18 PM »
Contrast it with Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) where he goes through periods of, not wretched poverty, but the relentless bleakness of having very little money. 

I also like his recent approach of being old and secure enough to admit his favourite activity is shopping and not having to pretend to be a metro culture type any more. 

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1017 on: September 05, 2020, 05:48:55 PM »
Contrast it with Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) where he goes through periods of, not wretched poverty, but the relentless bleakness of having very little money. 

I also like his recent approach of being old and secure enough to admit his favourite activity is shopping and not having to pretend to be a metro culture type any more.

I skipped Theft By Finding after being disappointed by "Owls", but definitely will pick it up sooner rather than later.

And I get where you're coming from on the shopping front, I just wish that particularly chapter had been a bit more interesting, I've no issue with his love for shopping, I just didn't find his writing about it that fascinating.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1018 on: September 05, 2020, 06:01:36 PM »
I decided to give Kafka a go so started with The Metamorphasis. Seems good so far.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1019 on: September 05, 2020, 10:31:29 PM »
I decided to give Kafka a go so started with The Metamorphasis. Seems good so far.

Just finished this myself, coincidentally, and I'm on to The Trial now. Enjoying it so far - the psychological aspect to both of these is something that I find very compelling.

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