Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 88253 times)

Talulah, really!

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What are you reading?
« on: October 04, 2017, 10:07:22 PM »
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux.

In which Louis' Dad travels by trains, mostly, from Boston all the way down through South America to where the lines eventually come to an end. A vivid portrait of places and time (the early days of the Carter administration) in the company of a wry observer. Have just reached...

Chapter 18 El Panamericano

The Panamerican Express is one of South America's great trains, travelling over 1.000 miles from La Paz to the Argentine city of Tucuman. It crosses a national frontier - few in this hemisphere do - and railway travel is never more interesting than when it involves a border crossing. The frontier is nearly always a no-man's land in which fascinating pieces of fraudulent theatre are enacted - the passport stamping ceremony, the suspicious looks, the bullying at customs, the foolishly patriotic pique, and the unexplained delays.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 11:20:18 PM »
The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin, a short novel about the existential crisis of an alcoholic biscuit company executive, written entirely in the second person. 

I don’t like reviewing things until I’ve finished them (which shouldn’t take long given it’s not much more than 100 pages) but i can say that it is at the very least a piece of stylistic brilliance, drawing you into the mind of the protagonist.

Howj Begg

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2017, 12:45:13 AM »
Ive just finished Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, which is for about the  last 2/3 like something written by Alan Partidge. An incredibly vain, concreted, paranoid man who  stays around Europe in the homes of the gentry, in an outsahoude by a pond, until he gets exiled from Gneeva or issued an arrest warrant in France. cos the stuff he wrote was genuinely dangerous to the aristocraic family monarchies of Europe. So he comes across as a paranoid, slightly senile man, but, he was right to be paranoid. He was spied on. But possibly not by some of his bemused friends. Seriously, some of the best 'diary of a nobody' type comedy in Rousseau's constant outrages at receiving a slighlty ambigious letter from a a friend. He's constantly endfing important and lucrative friendships when his prode's been hurt.

But there's more. He confessed to like being dominated spanked in sex, by a 'mother'. He says he cannot help his lusts very often, but that he is mostly virginial and chaste, until he meets the woman who is to sponser his conversion to catholocism. She turens out to be a free love advocate, well that's Rousseau's interpretation, contemporaries may have used different words. But she's apparently the most spiritually moral person. So he gets frustarted and goes masturbating in public near some school girls, then gets cahsed under the sewer. He also confesses to stealing and lying.

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2017, 05:58:41 AM »
Just finished Mr Theodore Mundstock, by Ladislav Fuks. It's set in Prague in 1942 and the protagonist is an elderly Jewish man who becomes incredibly paranoid and anxious about receiving a summons to go to the concentration camps until he realises that he is not prepared for it and must prepare and spends a long time anticipating what he might have to go through and figuring out ways of strengthening himself for that and this brings him great purpose and joy. An immense piece of psychological writing, very intimate and personal but a huge burdensome theme and extremely movingly done.
I recently also read another of his books, The Cremator, which was adapted into a stunning film. Both make use of the kinds of mundane, quotidian details and intricacies that stand out against the horrors of the surrounding world. Truly magnificent.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2017, 09:53:31 AM »
Laird Barron, The Light Is The Darkness  Just started it and so far not too bad.  It's got your usual Laird Barron type protagonist, an ubermensch scientific genius man of steel with an artistic streak who fights in underground dead gladiator matches and likes his scotch.  I know it's part of his whole deal to write weird fiction with characters that are the opposite of your typical Lovecraftian weedy scholar, but I can't help rolling my eyes a bit sometimes.  I think Dean Koontz has had similar characters - ones who are excellent at everything...yet somehow troubled, yeah?  The Royal Tenenbauams from Yuggoth.

Despite all my kvetching I've loved everything I've read by LB so hope my first foray into his novellas is good.

John E Mack, Abduction:  Human Encounters with Aliens  I got this after hearing about it on Last Podcast on the Left.  Even though I don't "believe in them", alien abduction stories have always really given me the willies.  This seemed to have been touted as one of the few rational books on the subject, since Mack worked at Harvard, was a skeptic beforehand, and subjected his patients to the same regression therapy as he would any other trauma cases.  It's pretty interesting seeing the similarities between so many of the cases, and it's fun to treat it all as deadly serious.  After a while the slightly dry structure of the book (more or less one abductee per chapter) made it get a bit dull and I've put it on hold - probably start rereading next time I can't sleep.  My assumption so far though is that Mack really wanted to believe, and that hypnotic regression therapy seems potentially pretty dodgy/harmful.  Even if someone truly believes they've been abducted by Greys, reality notwithstanding, if they speak openly about it outside of therapy it's going to ruin their life and relationships.  Still an interesting phenomenon - basically a self-satisfied rational world's answer to fairies/angels. 

If read after dark, it has actually given me the chills, but I'm going to put this 90% down to my overactive imagination (and the shower cap in the bathroom that looks like a panda face but the black bits around its eyes make it look like a Grey is looking over the windowsill at night.)


Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2017, 08:38:41 PM »
I've just started Going On The Turn by Danny Baker, which is well up to the standards of his previous volumes of autobiography. I've had a pretty good year this year, I've only read about two books I out and out disliked (although I've given up on a handful as well), but it's been a very strong year for fiction. But I've just read a dozen novels back to back, so am going to read some non-fiction for a while - I've already got my next two books lined up, Adrian Addison's 'Mail Men' and Mark Bowden's 'Killing Pablo' (as I've been working my way through 'Narcos'...!)

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 09:35:48 PM »
I've just started Going On The Turn by Danny Baker, which is well up to the standards of his previous volumes of autobiography. I've had a pretty good year this year, I've only read about two books I out and out disliked (although I've given up on a handful as well), but it's been a very strong year for fiction. But I've just read a dozen novels back to back, so am going to read some non-fiction for a while - I've already got my next two books lined up, Adrian Addison's 'Mail Men' and Mark Bowden's 'Killing Pablo' (as I've been working my way through 'Narcos'...!)

I hope they're short non-fiction books as (and I can't explain why) I shall be annoyed if you don't make it to 100 books in a year given the rate you've managed so far! :)

Today I started reading my Uncle's autobiography, it's quite weird reading about your family history in print, and he has a very different relationship to his parents than I did, in that he loved both, whereas I always found my grandmother to be an evil so and so.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2017, 10:06:22 PM »
I hope they're short non-fiction books as (and I can't explain why) I shall be annoyed if you don't make it to 100 books in a year given the rate you've managed so far! :)

Oh no, no cheating with short books! I've read 83 books so far this year, and we're only 3/4 of the way through, so I should make that target quite easily, I hope....

Quote
Today I started reading my Uncle's autobiography, it's quite weird reading about your family history in print, and he has a very different relationship to his parents than I did, in that he loved both, whereas I always found my grandmother to be an evil so and so.

a.) Does he mantion 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?'
b.) Where can I buy it?

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 11:00:20 PM »
Oh no, no cheating with short books! I've read 83 books so far this year, and we're only 3/4 of the way through, so I should make that target quite easily, I hope....

I hope you do, I'm oddly invested in this!

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a.) Does he mantion 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?'
b.) Where can I buy it?

a) Unfortunately not, this first volume largely concerns the years he spent working on stage (with actors like Richard Burton and John Neville) but stops just before it gets to the tv years, which are to be covered in a proposed second volume, so it might be worth waiting for that.
b) In case you're still interested I've pm'd you a link, whilst I'm in no way involved with the book I don't want to potentially break forum rules.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 11:16:12 PM by Small Man Big Horse »

shiftwork2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 11:40:59 PM »
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux.

I read a couple of Theroux books and eventually got turned off by his snooty dismissal of most of what he describes.  Kingdom By The Sea is the worst offender, but perhaps that's due to familiarity.

I've just started Going On The Turn by Danny Baker

Yes, that is on the list.  Out today so you're fairly on the ball there.

I'm currently reading Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung, a former DPRK 'official poet' of Kim Jong-Il who fled to the South via China.  An amazing story and a vivid insight into the horrible madness of the North Korean regime.

Lost Oliver

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2017, 12:41:32 PM »
Considering I've read about five books over the past year, if that, I'm going through a bit of a hot streak at the minute and really 'getting into' learning and reading again.

At the moment I'm reading three books:

50 Philosophy Classics: Thinking, Being, Acting Seeing: Am just reading six pages a night of this and learn something / feel better about myself. Each of the 50 has six pages on their life, ideas and focuses on one of their works.

This is then followed by Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung. Again, just a few pages but I'm learning shit and enjoying it.

And then it's easy time. I've done the hard work I can now read something easy and not feel guilty. At the moment it's Rebuilding Coventry by Sue Townsend and it's bloody funny.

For the last six years I've barely read anything because I've always gone for something challenging, not understood it, got demotivated and depressed and then not read it. If you're the same try my way. And I won't even charge you for it.

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2017, 01:53:32 PM »
About to start The Conformist.

Also just finished the introduction to The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2017, 08:37:17 PM »
Yes, that is on the list.  Out today so you're fairly on the ball there.

Well, like his previous volume, this one was announced and delayed at least twice, so I've been anticipating it for a couple of years by this point. Had it on preorder for months when this date was announced! Over halfway through it, and it doesn't disappoint - although he's obviously talking about his cancer year in part of it, outside of that I have been reduced to a tittering wreck on several occasions already.


Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2017, 10:15:19 PM »
I finished the Danny Baker, which was pretty good, though quite uneven compared to the previous parts of the trilogy. He is still able to come up with a zinger (his reaction to Hughie Green's train set), and still seems to have an inexhaustible fund of stories to tell (the one about him complaining about leafblowers in a hotel is the winner in this volume), including more about the now almost legendary Spud. And name-dropping aplenty, including one story which shows that Alan Davies isn't quite as big a cunt as I'd always thought he was.

But this also covers the cancer year, which is heavy going anyway, but obviously sparked some memories for me. While he does occasionally veer close to the celebrity sin of writing about it like he's the only person who's ever gone through it, I can identify with a lot of things he says about his mindset at the time. It also made me realise that as horrible as some of the shit (primarily chemo) that I've been through is, I will thank the god that I don't believe in that I've never had to go through radiotherapy. He does seem chirpily optimistic that it'll never come back, and I hope for his sake that he's right.

And anyway, he has to live for another twenty years, as this book brings us right up to date, so he needs to have some more adventures to fill at least a couple more volumes.



Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2017, 03:24:23 PM »
Currently reading Swing Hammer Swing! by Jeff Torrington. There are quite a few words and allusions I don't understand, but you just get carried away by the flow of the writing.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2017, 04:06:49 PM »
Currently reading Swing Hammer Swing! by Jeff Torrington. There are quite a few words and allusions I don't understand, but you just get carried away by the flow of the writing.

Read this years ago - he had quite a way with words - some of his turns of phrase are still stuck in my head more than a decade later, although the sheer density of the verbiage can be a bit OTT at times.

sillymisslily

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2017, 07:29:32 PM »
A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan, which my inverse snobbery and hatred of pretension says I shouldn't like, but I'm quite enjoying.

Some rich maudlin French teenager having a torrid affair is always a laugh.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2017, 10:29:39 AM »
I have a bath book

First Man In Rome by Colleen McCullough

Set around the time that the Roman Republic was waning, it follows two of the major characters that helped set that decline in motion, Gaius Marius and Cornelius Sulla.

This is a very well researched book, the characters shine through and it doesn't drag at all, despite being a long book. If you want to know more about Roman history in a entertaining way, then this book is a good way to do it.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2017, 10:45:23 AM »
Last night I started Under a Watchful Eye, the latest horror novel by Adam Nevill.

About 20 pages in and it's already feeling sinister, with a well-established main character and an ominous sighting on a beach.

Nevill's  The Ritual was one of my favourite horror books of recent years and the old-fashioned supernatural vibe of this new one is right up my alley. With the remote seaside location and the lonely and isolated protagonist it has an M. R. James feel to it. Looking forward to cracking on with more tonight.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2017, 02:37:06 PM »
I haven't read this, in fact I hadn't heard of it until a few minutes ago, but Gargoyles by Thomas Bernhard has just arrived at work for someone.

Looks a bit heavy for my current mood, but interesting. Anyone read it?

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2017, 02:42:59 PM »
I've never read Gargoyles but would heartily recommend Bernhard in general. He's one of the most blackly funny writers I've ever encountered, particularly in Woodcutters, which is essentially a long, one-paragraph monologue delivered by a misanthrope who sits in an armchair while a bourgeois dinner party full of people he has grown to detest takes place around him.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2017, 02:45:28 PM »
Nevill's  The Ritual was one of my favourite horror books of recent years.

I nabbed this going cheap on Amazon the other day, really looking forward to reading it.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2017, 02:53:20 PM »
I've read a few Thomas Bernhard novels, though not Gargoyles. He's amazing, an utterly compelling and unique writer, but I always have to take a break after reading one of his books before I try another one. I find his style almost hypnotic. I think he's doing something very clever with his weird, analytic and repetitive prose. His books are funny, dark and disturbing, and I find them a great representation of a mind which has become obsessive to the point of disorder. I don't think I've really read anyone else quite like him.

I've read Correction, Woodcutters and The Loser. I feel like all of them are variations on the same book in a way. There are a lot of themes that carry across each of them (such as a general disgust for most of the people the narrator has to deal with and the culture he's part of), and in fact there are very similar plot points in each one (the narrator being preoccupied with the recent suicide of a close friend being an important part of each one), and I'd even go so far as to say the narrator in each one could be the same person, if it weren't for certain biographical differences.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2017, 03:01:15 PM »
I nabbed this going cheap on Amazon the other day, really looking forward to reading it.

Great stuff. I loved it. It's a really lean and relentless book and the characters all felt very real and well-observed. Let us know what you think!

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2017, 03:17:15 PM »
Great stuff. I loved it. It's a really lean and relentless book and the characters all felt very real and well-observed. Let us know what you think!

I'm currently reading Judith Claire Mitchell's A Reunion Of Ghosts. It's ok, but it's taking me chuffin' ages to get through. But yeah, I'll let you know.

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2017, 10:33:01 PM »
I've read a few Thomas Bernhard novels, though not Gargoyles. He's amazing, an utterly compelling and unique writer, but I always have to take a break after reading one of his books before I try another one. I find his style almost hypnotic. I think he's doing something very clever with his weird, analytic and repetitive prose. His books are funny, dark and disturbing, and I find them a great representation of a mind which has become obsessive to the point of disorder. I don't think I've really read anyone else quite like him.

I've read Correction, Woodcutters and The Loser. I feel like all of them are variations on the same book in a way. There are a lot of themes that carry across each of them (such as a general disgust for most of the people the narrator has to deal with and the culture he's part of), and in fact there are very similar plot points in each one (the narrator being preoccupied with the recent suicide of a close friend being an important part of each one), and I'd even go so far as to say the narrator in each one could be the same person, if it weren't for certain biographical differences.

This sounds right up my alley. Which would you recommend?

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2017, 11:03:58 PM »
This sounds right up my alley. Which would you recommend?

I enjoyed Correction and Woodcutters more than The Loser, but since there are - as I mentioned - a lot of similarities between the books, it might simply have been an effect of my having read those two first. Correction is one of the most memorable reading experiences I've had, but when I got around to The Loser, as much as I enjoyed it, I had a fair idea of what to expect, and it didn't really surprise me.

Correction would probably be a top 10 of all-time read for me though, so I'd go with that. I think Woodcutters is probably funnier, but Correction does something pretty unusual with the narrative voice as the story progresses (I won't say more because I wouldn't want to spoil the experience for anyone) which the other two don't.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2017, 12:02:22 AM »
I enjoyed Gathering Evidence and Old Masters and also didn't get on with The Loser as much.

Here's Michael Hofmann's review of Old Masters. Not long after reading the novel I saw Sophie Nys' video installation using the part with Reger's complaints about Heidegger's knitted socks at his log cabin in the Black Forest and the kitchification of German writing in Adalbert Stifter. You can watch the short film here and treat it as a trailer for the book: https://vimeo.com/42424635

Quote
Die Hütte is based on an extract from the novel Alte Meister (Old Masters) by Thomas Bernhard. Among other things, the fragment tells about a small village (near Freiburg) in the Black Forest, where in 1922 Heidegger let himself build a hut. This hut is still in the possession of the Heidegger family, but inaccessible to the public. The film might be seen as a portrait of this hut, including images from the surroundings, like for example those picturing Germany’s first ski slope. Besides the presence of the hut – where Heidegger wrote Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) and entrenched himself just after WWII – and by means of a voice-over (Bernhards text), Heidegger’s character and philosophy, and the culture that nurtured both, are being ridiculised. Snug Germany, contemptible Austria, Black Forest Philosophy, literature kitsch, pseudo-intelligence, petite-bourgeoisie, dilettantism and amateurism are some keywords with which this monologue is interlarded.

My favourite has been Gathering Evidence the autobiographical novels written in the middle of his career collected together with My Prizes, shorter autobiographical writings about winning literary prizes. Starting at the back with My Prizes could be a good introduction to his style (despite being late writings).

You can read five short stories from The Voice Imitator here. His Collected Poems are getting published in English later this month. I'll try to get round to Correction and Woodcutters based on what's been said in the thread.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 12:36:08 AM by Smeraldina Rima »

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #28 on: October 11, 2017, 01:32:53 PM »
About a quarter of the way through Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, enjoying it but it's quite hard going in places. Absolutely adored Mason & Dixon though so will definitely persevere.






gilbertharding

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2017, 06:27:08 PM »
Just finished The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and then Call for the Dead.

Now just started Of Human Bondage.