Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 131069 times)

Pingers

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #900 on: February 13, 2020, 08:13:16 AM »
Totally get the dreamlike qualities. I'm not entirely sure I 'got' the whole book, and it's something I can imagine coming back to in the future. It's a terrific book, albeit one that often confounded me.

When I mentioned Satantango earlier in the thread, the film adaptation got mentioned. This was apparently turned into a film by Béla Tarr called Werckmeister Harmonies. Despite the vividness of parts of the book, it seems totally unfilmable, which is only making me more curious. Has anyone actually seen this? It sounds really interesting.

When I read The Melancholy of Resistance I felt it was saying something I didn't understand about the Hungarian psyche, something very unflattering. I didn't really know about Orban and Jobbik at the time, but in retrospect wonder if that type of idiot groupthink is a manifestation of what he was driving at. I could be way off though.

Hymenoptera

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #901 on: February 13, 2020, 08:14:30 AM »
I read High Life by him. It's good, but depressing.

I gave that a cursory Google - it sounds great! I'll have to pick that up after Cows as a palette cleanser.

Just finished the audiobook of A Scanner Darkly which I found pretty incredible. Haven't been immersed in the world of a novel like that for a very long time. I have been evangelizing about it to pretty much anyone in my immediate vicinity.

I listened to this a while back and loved it. Boyfriend is a massive Philip K. Dick fan but I'd only ever seen film adaptations, so I popped this on one day and ended up forfeiting an afternoon to it. Brilliant and absolutely devastating, especially with the dedication to his lost friends right at the end.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #902 on: February 13, 2020, 08:50:13 AM »
yeah it's great, quite faithful to the book's atmosphere and the whole 'nightmarish quality''. you should definitely check it out.

Excellent, that's me sold!

When I read The Melancholy of Resistance I felt it was saying something I didn't understand about the Hungarian psyche, something very unflattering. I didn't really know about Orban and Jobbik at the time, but in retrospect wonder if that type of idiot groupthink is a manifestation of what he was driving at. I could be way off though.

Yeah, there's certainly a political dimension that went over my head (knowing virtually nothing about Hungary can't have helped). I think it was originally published in 1989, so there's naturally going to be a certain amount of soul-searching about the end of communism, and anxieties about what next. The message I took from it is that when one order breaks down, people try to find another, so it makes sense that the collapse of Eastern Bloc communism would open up the possibility of fascism.

Inspector Norse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #903 on: February 13, 2020, 12:38:13 PM »
When I mentioned Satantango earlier in the thread, the film adaptation got mentioned. This was apparently turned into a film by Béla Tarr called Werckmeister Harmonies. Despite the vividness of parts of the book, it seems totally unfilmable, which is only making me more curious. Has anyone actually seen this? It sounds really interesting.

I saw it ages ago and wasn't keen: a bit too obviously Tarkovskian in its sloooooowness and starkness without seeming to say all that much. But exquisitely filmed and atmospheric. I'd like to give it another go now I'm older and have more patience for that kind of thing.
The only thing of Krasnakorhai's I've read was Satantango which was very good; I have the film of that (also by Tarr) on the shelf but it's about a week long so I've not dared dive into it yet.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #904 on: February 13, 2020, 06:38:55 PM »
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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #905 on: February 13, 2020, 08:25:18 PM »
Homecoming by Colin Grant. An oral history of the Windrush generation. Dead good. Did you know that the people who came over had only ever seen chimneys on factories so presumed that all the houses (with chimneys) they saw were factories? Also introduced me to Peter Rachman, slum landlord extraordinaire. Utter cunt who would have felt very much at home today.

Quote
According to his biographer, Shirley Green, Rachman moved the protected tenants into a smaller concentration of properties or bought them out to minimise the number of tenancies with statutory rent controls. Houses were also subdivided into a number of flats to increase the number of tenancies without rent controls.[9] Rachman filled the properties with recent migrants from the West Indies. Rachman's initial reputation, which he sought to promote in the media, was as someone who could help to find and provide accommodation for immigrants but he was massively overcharging these West Indian tenants, as they did not have the same protection under the law as had the previous tenants.[10]

Someone also mention Michael X/ De Freitas who was someone I hadn't heard of before. Sounds a bit rum, that one.

I find this period really interesting. There were parts in an otherwise tedious novel on a recent Booker longlist that spoke about the experience of people who had just arrived from the West Indies in the fifties and it was so good. Got the Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon on the shelf but am yet to read it. Is there a decent photographic archive out there? I have the Honest Jon's 'London is the Place For Me' compilations (well the first four anyway) and wish they'd do an accompanying book.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #906 on: February 13, 2020, 08:57:40 PM »
Peter Rachman

He became a by-word for evil slum landlord, but I've seen some stuff claiming that he was essentially a fall-guy and posthumous victim of a tabloid monstering. There was also a strain of anti-semitism running through the vitriol against him. It helped that all of the stuff about him came out after he died, so no fear of libel. Still a landlord who made a mint off of exploiting others, but maybe not as evil as he's been portrayed. More here: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/12/23/the-real-meaning-of-rachmanism/

Someone also mention Michael X/ De Freitas who was someone I hadn't heard of before. Sounds a bit rum, that one.

I've read his autobiography. An interesting guy, but overall seems like a cunt. A lot of 60s/70s white radicals excused his behaviour on spurious grounds.

I find this period really interesting.

Tainted Love by Stewart Home is good.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #907 on: February 13, 2020, 10:54:19 PM »
Ah, cheers for all that. Will see if I can find a copy of Tainted Love and De Freitas' book.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #908 on: February 17, 2020, 12:01:57 PM »
I read two books last week. First was Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes's extraordinary book about photography. It's a brilliant mix of critical theory and personal reflections that is often genuinely moving. It's short enough that I read in in one sitting, which is something I hardly ever do. Then there was Strange Hotel[/], Eimear McBride's new book. It's nothing earth-shattering compared to A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, but still an enjoyable read that uses hotels really well as spaces of transience, and touches on my own love of staying in hotels and the sense that they are places where normal life is somehow suspended.

Twit 2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #909 on: February 17, 2020, 04:15:06 PM »
Got a mauling in the private eye (Mcbride). I love Barthes, along with Levi-Strauss (of the more Tristes Tropiques end) he is one of the most readable and humane of the critical theory bastards.

buttgammon

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #910 on: February 17, 2020, 07:26:25 PM »
Got a mauling in the private eye (Mcbride). I love Barthes, along with Levi-Strauss (of the more Tristes Tropiques end) he is one of the most readable and humane of the critical theory bastards.

Although I thought the book was quite good, I'm not entirely surprised it got a mauling. I have a feeling she may be one of those writers who set the bar too high with her debut. I liked The Lesser Bohemians a bit more than the new one and even that felt like a bit of a step down.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #911 on: February 18, 2020, 01:44:39 PM »
Having just finished 'Up River' by Jack Trevor Story I am most amused by THIS story.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dad-stuck-permanent-erection-unable-21519007


gilbertharding

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #912 on: February 18, 2020, 02:19:48 PM »
Peter Rachman

Tangential figure in the Profumo scandal: Mandy Rice Davies was his girlfriend.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #913 on: February 18, 2020, 03:14:23 PM »
"The Resisters" by Gish Jen.

It's an oh-god-this-is-probably-going-to-happen-for-real near future, where AI has taken over all branches of government and the world is divided into "netted" and "surplus" people. One of the surplus discovers she has an incredible talent for baseball, so when the remaining super-countries decide to take on the USA at baseball, literally beating them at their own game, she is forced into service.

It's an interesting story, and well told. So far, anyway.

Inspector Norse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #914 on: February 26, 2020, 08:31:51 PM »
Just finished Tibor Fischer's Under the Frog, which I picked up in Budapest wanting to read something local, only to notice on my way to pay that the text 'Booker Prize Nominated 1992' suggested he wasn't in fact local, but a Brit of Hungarian parentage. I went ahead and bought it anyway, and I'm really glad I did, because I thought it a really special book: a series of vignettes following two young men growing up during the '40s and '50s in Hungary under the turbulent Nazi and communist regimes, as they try to get on with the business of being young men in a broken country.
It's very, very funny - flights of comic fantasy mix with coarse bawdiness, biting satire with groaning one-liners - and, as the boys grow into men, gets darker and more moving.

Unfortunately, reading up on Fischer suggests his books got less and less interesting over time, so my happiness at discovering this is tempered by the suggestion there might not be anything else worth reading (his follow-up, The Thought Gang, seems well-regarded but the premise doesn't appeal to me).

Mister Six

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #915 on: March 02, 2020, 04:53:19 AM »
Finished up Lynsey Hanley's Respectable. Not bad, but the chapter about the development of UK education since WWII was dry as fuck. Also there's a bit towards the end of the book where she decides the Manics were a great bunch of lads for telling Billy Bragg to fuck off when he complained about them having their own shitter backstage at Glasto (on the basis that they were standing up to the old fuddy-duddies and going their own way) but then slags off the Arctic Monkeys for declining to do Top of the Pops, saying that they were betraying "us".

Er, maybe you just got old, Lyns?

Now romping my way through Clive Barker's The Scarlet Gospels, his Avengers-style "worlds collide" mash-up in which occult detective Harry D'Amour (played by Scott Bakula in Barker's 1995 film Lord of Illusions) goes up against Pinhead from The Hellbound Heart and its film adaptation, Hellraiser. It's proper Hollywood thriller stuff, with big explosions and setpieces every couple of chapters and a totally breakneck pace. Quite unlike a lot of his other stuff that I've read.

It's good fun, mind you, although I don't like the changes made to Pinhead and the other Cenobites. In The Hellbound Heart they were extradimensional lunatics who had become so obsessed with their creepy S&M games that they no longer saw humans as anything other than clay to be moulded. They were terrifying and alien, but not actively demonic. Here, they're explicitly a religious order in Hell, which has cities, politicians and peasants, and isn't nearly as interesting or horrifying as what Barker gave us in the first two Hellraiser films, or The Hellbound Heart. In the latter there's an image of trapped victims, bound in cages too small to stand up in, the bars of which cause pain when touched, so that they can never rest, never move, without feeling a jolt of pain - forever. Much scarier than living in a shit demon town being bullied by monsters. That's basically just real life for most people.

Also some of the supporting cast are a bit shite. Harry's team of allies are Caz, a tattoo artist who's a bit handy but has no personality; Lana, a woman who's a bit handy but has no personality; and Dale, who does have a personality - making a pass at every bloke around him even when he's in the bowels of Hell itself - but who is basically just a walking plot device, since his prophetic dreams tell him how to get everyone out of each sticky situation. It's a testament to how fun and fast-paced the book is that I don't mind this at all.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2020, 05:14:22 AM by Mister Six »

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #916 on: March 02, 2020, 10:22:12 AM »
Still on Conan, last one was Jewels of Gwahlur.

Reading him throwing around the words 'slut' and 'trollop' does make me think that he's constantly going 'PHWOOOOOOAR' and doing that thing with his arm, it's just never documented.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #917 on: March 03, 2020, 09:24:38 PM »
Just wanted to give a shout out to Gout_Pony's librivox audiobook of W. N. P. Barbellion's Journal of a Disappointed Man. Although the H.G. Wells intro prepares the reader to put up with early egotism, I think I enjoyed the budding naturalist parts as much as the gradually dying parts and the developing intellect/wisdom. It is extremely sad, especially as he seems to talk about how awful it would be to have his ambitions and love of life cut short by death even before it's obvious how ill he is. An emotional experience to spend fourteen hours listening to Gout_Pony.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #918 on: March 18, 2020, 02:39:56 PM »
Wreaking by James Scudamore - An odd old novel partially set in the past in an abandoned psychiatric hospital as it's new owner and his daughter try to redecorate it, while in the present their now very fragile relationship is slowly rebuilt. It's a tease of a novel, flitting between the two timelines just as something exciting happens in one of them, a device Scudamore overuses to frustrating effect, and it's also sometimes a little overly descriptive and repetitive too, and so a strange experience where I loved some segments but found myself bored by others. A haunting, mostly fascinating work overall, though I'm not sure I could recommend it due to some of the issues I had with it.

Mister Six

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #919 on: March 18, 2020, 08:04:43 PM »
Finished up The Scarlet Gospels and while it was fun, it really spiralled into nothingness in the second half, as Harry and his mates did pretty much nothing but watch as Pinhead woke up Lucifer and got his arse handed to him. The relentless pace made it very readable, but left almost all the characters total cyphers, and the number of times the heroes stumble into some ghastly situation that is almost immediately resolved easily (often not even by one of them) is ridiculous. Felt like Barker trying to do Stephen King, and like Stephen King finding he'd bitten off more than he could chew by the end.

Inspector Norse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #920 on: March 20, 2020, 07:27:59 PM »
A couple of prize winners!

Jack Fairweather’s Costa-winning The Volunteer, the story of a Pole who, as the title suggests, went to Auschwitz of his own free will and organised the underground resistance there. It’s a compelling and (obviously) disturbing read. Like much of the best war literature and film, tells an fascinating story of people in extraordinary circumstances doing remarkable things while really conveying the staggering inhumanity. Also particularly scathing about the Allies’ reluctance and failure to act on the intelligence these guys risked everything to smuggle out.

And Flights by Nobel winner Olga Tokarczuk. I sometimes think of the Nobel as a bit dry and fusty but this was a genuinely intellectually exciting book. Less a novel than a handful of short stories and historical retellings interspersed with musings and anecdotes on the subject of travel. Teeming with insight and understanding. Good stuff.

Pingers

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #921 on: March 26, 2020, 06:45:04 AM »
Recently read 'My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist' by Mark Leyner. Disliked it a lot. It's an 'absurdist, post-modern' collection of short pieces. The problem with it is, it's absurdism for absurdism's sake. I read an essay about Vonnegut's absurdism and how he used it in furtherance of his humanism, which is also how absurdism is used in Catch-22. Leyner's writing just piles on the absurdist imagery without any art or discernible purpose, so that it quickly becomes boring. Some of the ideas are good, but none are given time to develop, he just moves straight on to something unrelated in the next sentence. It is like someone printed off the 'That's all I got' thread in HS Art and bound it together, or that he read the wackier bits of Pynchon and Vonnegut and thought "I can do that". He can't.

The blurb on the cover tries to sell it as some kind of hallucinatory experience, but rather than the cheerful wackiness of weed or the glorious loopiness of acid, it's as if someone has overdone the coke and then poured out a never-ending stream of consciousness. This fits with the overwhelmingly 1980s feel of the pieces, with frequent insertion of cod-scientific and medical vocabulary and reference to material excess. I suppose it could be read as a satire in that sense, an excess of words and ideas to send up the excessive consumerism of the 80s, but if that was the intent he didn't let his point or purpose show through.

Ray Travez

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #922 on: March 27, 2020, 11:17:04 AM »
Unfortunately, reading up on Fischer suggests his books got less and less interesting over time, so my happiness at discovering this is tempered by the suggestion there might not be anything else worth reading (his follow-up, The Thought Gang, seems well-regarded but the premise doesn't appeal to me).

I was a fan of Fischer. I'd say Under the Frog is the best one, but The Thought Gang is worth a read too, it's interesting and funny still. If it doesn't grab you I guess it's not worth bothering, though I would say it's a lot funnier and cleverer than the central conceit might make it sound. The Collector Collector I only read once. Had some nice descriptions but I didn't quite feel it worked somehow. The short story collection Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid is patchy but has some nice moments. A particular favourite of mine is Bookcruncher- here it is.

I read both Good to Be God and Voyage to the End of the Room and I don't remember anything about them, except a feeling of disappointment. I'll always read a new one by him, hoping for another shaft of brilliance like Under the Frog, but not expecting it. I often wonder why his talent faded out of him so markedly.

Having said that, I've just bought his latest, How to Rule the World. I'll probably get The Thought Gang again after that. I've read it at least three times, but not for over a decade.

gilbertharding

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #923 on: March 27, 2020, 12:40:30 PM »
Rereading Afternoon Men, by Anthony Powell. A very early novel (his first?) - it's a bit thin plotwise, but I'm a sucker for stories about bohemian idlers between the wars.

Ray Travez

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #924 on: April 01, 2020, 12:36:05 AM »
Gotta Get Theroux This
My time reading Louis Theroux's autobiography had left me with more questions than answers.

The Fix- Damian Thompson
Enjoyable examination of modern addiction- drugs, dopamine, porn, the usual. The chapter on cupcakes dates it slightly.

Face It- Deborah Harry
Sacked this off, too many names. Didn't grab me, I don't know why.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #925 on: April 13, 2020, 10:52:51 PM »
Maeve in America , Essays by a Girl from Somewhere by Maeve Higgins - A mixture of memoir and articles about the things that influence her, it's a fantastic read in general, with some of her pieces on immigration making for stand out reading. There's a couple I didn't quite click with (the second where she obsesses about a dress especially) but by and large it's an impressive collection and one which has made me want to seek out her other work asap.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #926 on: May 02, 2020, 06:35:00 PM »
On to Living with Buildings by Iain Sinclair.

It's my first of his, mainly heard of through associations with Alan Moore etc.  Commissioned as a response to the exhibition of the same name at the Wellcome collection.  Don't know what any of that means.

Not sure what to make of it.  I'm an absolute novice when it comes to psychogeography and stream of consciousness writing; I like it well enough but sometimes the themes and ideas escape me for a bit.

Nice passage recounting meeting up with Jonathan Meades at l'Unite d'Habitation.  Interesting piece about the filmmaker Andrew Kotting revisiting his old council flat. 

I think I'm just a bit thick, but I like it enough.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #927 on: May 02, 2020, 07:16:39 PM »
Kötting and Sinclair's film, The Whalebone Box is on Mubi at the moment, expiring at midnight, but (as I learned here) if you open it by midnight it will remain viewable for a day or so. You can get a three month subscription free of charge here: https://mubi.com/storyhouse. I'd like to see By Our Selves, Kötting's John Clare film with Toby Jones and Alan Moore. I've been reading Clare's The Midsummer Cushion or Cottage Poems, which the poet had wanted to publish in 1832 but lacked enough subscribers. In 1979 it was first published as a 500 page collection of tales, poems, ballads, songs, sonnets and an introductory section addressed 'to the rural muse'. Clare uses the preface to 'explain the title to these trifles':

Quote
It is a very old custom among villagers in summer time to stick a piece of greensward full of field flowers & place it as an ornament in their cottages which ornaments are called Midsummer cushions. And as these trifles are field flowers of humble pretensions & of various hues I thought the above cottage custom gave me an opportunity to select a title that was not inapplicable to the contents of the Volume - not that I wish the reader to imagine that by doing so I consider these Poems in the light of flowers that can even ornament a cottage by their presence - yet if the eye of beauty can feel even an hours entertainment at their perusal I shal take it as the proudest of praise & if the lover of simple images & rural scenery find anything to commend my end & aim is gratified

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #928 on: May 02, 2020, 07:38:10 PM »
According to the back of the book, there's a piece in this about the very same whalebone box.  Will have to follow it up.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #929 on: May 02, 2020, 07:39:08 PM »


As depressing as it sounds. And I'm only at about page 50 of 500.

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