Author Topic: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread  (Read 6202 times)

grassbath

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2017, 07:40:55 PM »
Have you ever finished Ulysses? You haven't, have you. I've started it god knows how many times, but whenever that stately cunt Buck Mulligan starts with the al fresco intoning over a bit of shaving foam I look at the remaining one thousand pages and lose the will to live.

I tell this to everyone, but start with chapter 4. Read Leopold Bloom's first three chapters first - they are warm, funny, and easier to follow - then go back and read the Stephen ones if you want, which occur at the same time.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #31 on: November 18, 2017, 07:42:25 PM »
Are those two books of Joyce’s enjoyable books to just read, or are they the kind that reward studying rather than a casual dipping in? I’m not saying the former is a bad thing - I really enjoy going through something like a Shakespeare or a Milton with a study guide, but they’re not the kinds of thing I’ll crack open in bed or the bath, or at least not on a first reading.

They are both extremely enjoyable to read but there is something between studying and casually dipping in and a way in which studying (or reading carefully or best of all with others) later supports casually dipping in, which I think is what you mean about not relaxing with them on a first reading. Ulysses really isn't too difficult to read in a fairly normal way if you persevere through an initial shock. With Finnegans Wake I suppose you do have to challenge your expectation of a novel and spend a lot of time with it or surrender to interesting noises and surface humour.

touchingcloth

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #32 on: November 18, 2017, 08:25:22 PM »
Yep, an initial thorough studying supporting later casual readings. That’s where I am with something like Paradise Lost, which is pleasant enough to take purely at face value on first reading, but so dense with biblical and classical allusions that you really can’t get the most out of it without some scholarly resources to help point things out for you.

As I understand it, Finnegans Wake is beyond even that kind of approach, and isn’t a work which is even particularly aimed at providing any kind of narrative or characters for you to follow. I’m not sure if that would ever be my kind of thing, but I might have a crack at Ulysses again at some point given that I last attempted it as a teenager pretty much solely because I’d heard it was a highbrow and difficult book.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #33 on: November 18, 2017, 08:38:21 PM »
There is actually a very simple set of characters and generally accepted plot to follow in the Wake, but with a lot of other things going on and making it more obscure, or the few familiar characters manifesting in different ways in the dream. The other major difficulty is that it draws on many languages in the construction of its own so that the effective connotations depend partly on the reader's way of approaching half-recognisable words. I think attentive reading is as important as study but there is also something to be said for already caring about the myth of the Fall or knowing Shakespeare and Ibsen for example. It would make more sense to read Ulysses first. If we're looking for predictably enjoyable selling points, it's probably worth adding that there is a lot of toilet and sex humour in both novels.

touchingcloth

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #34 on: November 18, 2017, 09:03:36 PM »
Yes, I’ve heard all about the wanking, just like in the Odyssey. On which point, is there much benefit to reading Homer before Ulysses? That’s something that’s been on my reading to do list for quite some time anyway.

I do love writing that’s crammed with well done references to other sources, but as someone who can’t read the first paragraph of a Wikipedia article without firing off about fifteen new browser tabs it can make some works seem doubly daunting. The whole reason I went down a Milton rabbit hole was through wanting to understand some of Pullman’s reference points a little better, but I’m glad I did in that case.

buttgammon

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #35 on: November 18, 2017, 09:22:17 PM »
I think understanding the parallels to The Odyssey enhances Ulysses, but it's not essential. The parallels fade in and out at different points in the novel and to some extent, it has a rather ironic relationship to The Odyssey, not least because Bloom is a very different kind of hero to Odysseus and the journeys the two men go on are massively different in their scale and the nature of the obstacles they face. Saying that, I would recommend The Odyssey anyway.

As for the wanking, shitting and other sex, bodily functions and toilet humour in Joyce, I love it. It appeals to my immature sense of humour as much as it does my intellect. There are some very silly lists in Ulysses that make me laugh out loud, too.

Black Ship

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2017, 01:12:59 AM »
What did you think of Finnegans Wake?

The literary equivalent of chewing a mouthful of hard, compacted dirt with the occasional glass shard thrown in.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2017, 09:44:33 AM »
Concretopia: interesting book but put it down about three chapters in. I'm not sure why - I was enjoying it.

One of them, funnily enough, is Concretopia, which like studpuppet, I was enjoying but....something else obviously came along.

What's the matter with you lot?!? Concretopia is marvelous read - I whipped through that in a couple of days!

Thanks for the heads-up. I hadn't heard of that and it's just my kind of thing. I've only had time to read the first few pages so far but I', looking forward to reading it.

Bhazor

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #38 on: December 05, 2017, 12:22:01 AM »
I've been trying to get into The War of the Roses period of history. But yeesh, finding a starting point is like trying to find the first thread of a wooly jumper. I'm currently trying with Alison Weir's book Lancaster and York and its just a wall of names and relations. My kindle version of it currently has 50 highlighted sections and I'm not even a third of the way in yet.

Isnt Anything

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #39 on: December 12, 2017, 06:52:27 AM »
Not recent but despite several attempts got nowhere with Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.


Famous Mortimer

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #40 on: December 17, 2017, 02:56:23 PM »
Ulysses I thoroughly enjoyed - I do remember having to put it down in the middle and read a nice light sci-fi novel though, as it was a bit on the meaty side.

I'm currently stalled on Eric Hobsbawm's "Age Of Revolution" because...don't know, really. Perhaps it's the way someone has gone through it and underlined sections here and there, making me think the stuff I'm reading that isn't underlined is sort of pointless. Or maybe because it's quite dry. Interesting subject matter, though.

MoonDust

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2018, 12:11:21 PM »
Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Only got halfway through. It's a small enough book to read in a few days but I bought it over a month ago.

I love the idea and concept but found it a bit boring unfortunately. I would like to finish it just so I know how the story pans out, though.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #42 on: January 08, 2018, 09:38:04 PM »
What AREN'T I reading? I'll tell you what I'm not reading - the Trump book. Still waiting for the fucker to show up in the shop.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #43 on: January 08, 2018, 09:55:25 PM »
Not sure if I mentioned it in the 'What are you reading' thread but I sacked off Lincoln in the Bardo. I really wanted to like it and gave it my best shot but I didn't find it engaging, just a series of unfunny comic vignettes.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2018, 08:18:46 PM »
And there's the quote for the paperback.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2018, 11:21:31 PM »
Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Only got halfway through. It's a small enough book to read in a few days but I bought it over a month ago.

I love the idea and concept but found it a bit boring unfortunately. I would like to finish it just so I know how the story pans out, though.
I read it donkey's years ago, the entire of Asimov's linked serieses too, and I...well, I remember enjoying it but a casual glance at the Wikipedia page proves almost nothing (barring the name of the main-ish character) stuck with me.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2018, 11:35:50 AM »
I've tried to read Richard Herring's How Not To Grow Up twice. First time I was sent a review copy, read about half of it and found that it made me dislike him intensely, though this was back when I didn't know much about him. I wrote a review of that half of the book on Amazon (as I was obliged to) and he read it out on his podcast while Andrew Collins mocked me, as I later found out.

Years later, after discovering his early TV and radio work with Stewart Lee and becoming very fond of his sketch writing (if not his standup), I decided to give it another go, but sadly it still turns me right off him.

I think that's the only book I have on my shelf that I've abandoned, let alone more than once, but I can't justify throwing it away because my reaction to part of it was broadcast to thousands of the author's fans, which is an interesting oddity.

Serge

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #47 on: January 12, 2018, 01:33:46 PM »
and he read it out on his podcast while Andrew Collins mocked me, as I later found out.

That's a right cunt's trick. Unsurprisingly, it's something that Stewart Lee does as well, mocking people for the very fact that they don't like his act - I recently met a journalist from a paper who gave him a bad review when he had played in Derby, and he apparently spent much of his next gig in town mocking and belittling her for it. Cunt.

Jockice

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #48 on: January 12, 2018, 04:34:24 PM »
That's a right cunt's trick. Unsurprisingly, it's something that Stewart Lee does as well, mocking people for the very fact that they don't like his act - I recently met a journalist from a paper who gave him a bad review when he had played in Derby, and he apparently spent much of his next gig in town mocking and belittling her for it. Cunt.

Years ago I did a phone interview with Ben Elton when he was doing a stand-up tour. The piece went in the day of the show. And I realised I'd made a very big mistake in it. I was reviewing him that night and knew that he usually purchased the local paper where he was appearing to see if there was any material he could use. So I sat biting my nails throughout the show. But he didn't mention it, much to my relief.

It wasn't till the next day that I realised why. My interview only went into the early edition of the paper as a well-known local person had died so the my feature made way in the later edition for a tribute to him (or her, this was in the late 80s or early 90s. I can't remember who it was). So Ben had obviously bought that one. Thank you so much dead local celebrity.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #49 on: January 12, 2018, 11:51:29 PM »
I've tried to read Richard Herring's How Not To Grow Up twice. First time I was sent a review copy, read about half of it and found that it made me dislike him intensely, though this was back when I didn't know much about him. I wrote a review of that half of the book on Amazon (as I was obliged to) and he read it out on his podcast while Andrew Collins mocked me, as I later found out.
I remember the good old days of insulting Andrew Collins on here, and him replying. I was a bit of a dick, to be fair, but at least no-one's likely to find my awful opinions and annoying voice by accidentally turning on a radio; or being chained to a chair and forced to watch one of those "I Love The..." shows.

I felt the same way about that book. I'll admit to very rarely liking books written by comedians (neither the ones that are just a collection of mildly amusing essays, or full-on autobiographies) but that one stood out as being particularly bad. A shame, as I really like Herring otherwise.


Famous Mortimer

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2018, 11:09:51 PM »
"The Monk", by Matthew Lewis. It was a famous Gothic novel, apparently, first published in the 1790s, and I got it from a "fill a box with books for $10" mega-charity sales. I started reading it and got to the introduction, written in the 1950s, which basically says "might as well re-read Wuthering Heights, as it's loads better than this". A curious choice for an introduction, and it coloured my reading of the first few chapters, where I was begging the characters to get on with it - perhaps that style and era just isn't for me.

Utter Shit

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #51 on: January 26, 2018, 09:32:45 AM »
I gave up on The Corner by David Simon, having loved both The Wire and the book it came from, Homicide...anyone want to convince me to give it another go? I can't remember why I gave up on it, or how early I gave up, other than thinking it wasn't as good as Homicide.

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2018, 12:20:58 PM »
"The Monk", by Matthew Lewis. It was a famous Gothic novel, apparently, first published in the 1790s, and I got it from a "fill a box with books for $10" mega-charity sales. I started reading it and got to the introduction, written in the 1950s, which basically says "might as well re-read Wuthering Heights, as it's loads better than this". A curious choice for an introduction, and it coloured my reading of the first few chapters, where I was begging the characters to get on with it - perhaps that style and era just isn't for me.

The Monk is a bit of a slog, but it gets a lot better, and the end has got some well lurid heavy metal imagery!  If you're inclined I would recommend giving it a second try.

Hobo With A Shit Pun

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #53 on: February 16, 2018, 01:58:08 PM »
I'm currently not reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem. In the three months or so since I started it, I've read 15 other books. I think part of the problem is that I do most of my reading out and about, and the mammoth tome just isn't practical. So I end up slipping a wee paperback in my jacket, then before you know it that's what I'm reading at home, too.

The first three chapters of Jerusalem are very good, though. I had a similar lengthy paralysis shortly after starting Voices of the Fire, but that was just because of the Faulknerian Caveman's narrative style, which was an offputting way of starting a book.

Ray Travez

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #54 on: June 09, 2018, 10:10:51 AM »
Bloody Jared Diamond. I’m emphatically not reading him, despite many attempts. I pick up Guns, Germs and Steel, and just the denseness of it, the tiny words, the many pages… I give up. I donated it to a charity shop. Four weeks later, I see it in a different charity shop, as part of a four-books-for-a-quid deal. I’ve got three books, so it ends up being the fourth, I get home and it goes back on the shelf.

It’s been the same when I’ve tried with his other books- really want to know what he’s got to say, seemingly no impetus to start ploughing through the text.

Stalemate. I need Jared Diamond redux. Wikipedia is too brief, the books are too long. Jared Bloody Diamond!

MoonDust

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #55 on: June 10, 2018, 08:51:15 AM »
Tried reading Atlas Shrugged about ten years ago and only got about 200 pages in (out of a ridiculous number more).

I don't understand why it's so popular, particularly in the US, other than the fact the book is a capitalist's wet dream, as well as being incredibly reactionary. But even so, the way it is written is so so fucking dull.

Honestly, Ayn Rand couldn't even make her own warped ideas she loved so much interesting to the reader.

My personal politics aside, it is quite simply an incredibly boring book. Like genuinely boring.

Rarely has a book made me feel this way. Even ones I don't particularly enjoy and it takes me weeks to get through (see, A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, I nevertheless am still interested to see how it pans out, because I'm at least not bored reading it. Atlas Shrugged on the other hand, honestly, I would normally say let other people judge stuff by themselves but not in this case; do not waste your time reading it, you are warned.

timebug

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #56 on: June 19, 2018, 09:52:25 AM »
Tried a couple of Thomas Pynchon books; no go I'm afraid.
They just didn't grab me enough to give a shite about any
of the characters or plot/lack of plot to care enough to want
to read any more of them. Got about ten pages into one and
only about six into the other. Lots of people rave about them,
that's fine; each to their own,say I. But can someone PLEASE
put Dan Brown out of his misery as soon as possible? I was
lent the DaVinci Bollocks and did in fact read it all. That was
a few hours of my life I will never get back. Ho hum!

Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #57 on: June 23, 2018, 01:15:44 AM »
Tried a couple of Thomas Pynchon books; no go I'm afraid.
They just didn't grab me enough to give a shite about any
of the characters or plot/lack of plot to care enough to want
to read any more of them.
Despite not really enjoying Pynchon's more influential earlier books, I really rate a book his fans seem less arsed about, "Against the Day" from 2006, which I found had a more obvious hook to keep you reading in lieu of more straightforward character or plot interest- that hook being: Here is a fantasia of everything real and fictional that you know or half-know or could reasonably beleive about the USA at the start of the 20th century. With that as an anchor, I could really enjoy Pynchon's endless inventiveness, which in Gravity's Rainbow and Lot 49 I find just exhausting to read (I do get that nothing quite matches the opening of Lot 49 for depicting modern day data-overload, but I can't recommend the book as a whole).   

Glebe

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #58 on: June 23, 2018, 01:17:41 AM »
I've been trying to read The Silmarillion again and I keep giving up.

MoonDust

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Re: What AREN'T you reading? A 'books you've stalled on' thread
« Reply #59 on: June 23, 2018, 07:41:42 AM »
I've been trying to read The Silmarillion again and I keep giving up.

Urgh, I tried and gave up once. Wasn't really compelled to go back to it. Then again it's partly due to not liking the fantasy genre that much.

It's my one gripe with fantasy in general; because it's set in such a fantastical place and world, it requires world building, and descriptions of places you wouldn't need in non-fantasy fiction. And I dislike paragraphs and paragraphs of description.

Similar reasons I'm not much a fan of "the classics" of 19th century fiction, where they went at length to describe stuff even if it wasn't fantasy. Surely there would have been some Victorians reading Dickens and thinking "fucksake Charles, I can conjure up an image of an escaped convict in my own head. Just get to the fucking point!"


I guess that'd be an interesting mind game. Since novel styles have changed a lot since the 19th century, and what was normal to do then wouldn't get you published these days, I do wonder if these classics were written now how long they'd be.

War & Peace, Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo. They'll be like 200 - 300 if they were written today. Wouldn't be some fucking tome.