Author Topic: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?  (Read 12175 times)

Artie Fufkin

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2020, 10:07:29 AM »
Finished The Echo. It was really good. Quite creepy. Though I'm not entirely sure I 'got' the ending. Hmmmm.
I'm now reading Before And After by Andrew Shanahan. Which is also really good so far. About a 600lb recluse who's stuck in his 4th floor flat as a weird kind of 28 Days Later thing happens outside. It's written well, and I like the main character.
It's the author's first novel, and from what I can see, he's a 'food health' journalist for The Guardian, so I wonder if he had weight issues growing up?

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2020, 10:41:23 AM »
I'm currently halfway through Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara. I say 'currently' but I've been stuck halfway through for about a month now. Anyone else struggling to pick up a book during lockdown? I think it's half the fact that I used to do a lot of my reading on my commute and that would kick start my interest for later in the evening, and the other half is that I get pissed at night now. It's annoying as reading really helps with my mental health (much more so than drinking). It's a good book though, about kids going missing in the slums in India and the schoolboy who sets out to find them.




Just been looking at Before and After online. I like that one of the promo blurbs is from the British Obesity Society.

Captain Crunch

  • Twister, Dustbuster, Hospital Bed
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2020, 02:18:30 PM »
Just finished Gold Fame Citrus (2015) by Claire Vaye Watkins and thought it was good, still classic dystopian but a bit more expansive and  some lovely vivid and interesting writing.  Having a look at reviews it seemed to get a pasting for being ‘boring’ so maybe I’m just easily pleased at the moment! 

I'm still gently picking through this list:

https://www.vulture.com/article/best-dystopian-books.html

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2020, 03:44:50 PM »

I'm still gently picking through this list:

https://www.vulture.com/article/best-dystopian-books.html

Thanks for that!
I've just bought Super Flat Times, which I've been meaning to read for ages. It's down to 99p if you like your books in a digital fashion.

Captain Crunch

  • Twister, Dustbuster, Hospital Bed
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2020, 03:55:28 PM »
That’s a really good one, very strange and some lovely little twists of humour throughout.  Not quite Adam-sy but very dry.  I really enjoyed it. 

Also I only recently realised one of the books recommended is online as a pdf:

The Girl Who Was Plugged in by James Tiptree, Jr. (1974)

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2020, 04:10:04 PM »
Super Flat Times is great, I very much enjoyed that.

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2020, 04:23:55 PM »

Also I only recently realised one of the books recommended is online as a pdf:

The Girl Who Was Plugged in by James Tiptree, Jr. (1974)

Oooh. Fanx.

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2020, 08:53:39 AM »
Finished Before And After. I liked it. It was a sad/funny book, with a nice ending.
I'm now reading a totally different book - The Butchers Of Berlin by Chris Petit. Detective novel set in Germany in 1943. Only just started it. So far so good.

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #38 on: May 20, 2020, 02:10:37 PM »
Just ordered Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor. Anyone read it?

Quote
In a house among cane fields lives the Witch of La Matosa. The women of this fictional Mexican village feed her in exchange for occult help. The men resent her because it makes them feel “sterile and weak” when she supplies their wives and daughters with abortifacients, but they’re not slow to queue up to do drugs in her kitchen and have sex with her. Everyone is afraid of her but everyone uses her; until, eventually – perhaps exactly as you would expect – someone overcomes their fear and a gang of kids find her in an irrigation ditch on the first morning of May, with her throat cut.

Sentences are fetid, rhythmic and readable, full of insult and gossip, anecdotes and digressions
From there on, it’s all hearsay. Eight chapters of the villagers’ testimony, each written out of a different subjectivity, become short stories in themselves. There are no paragraphs, only chapter breaks. Paragraphing is managed instead by the full stops between extended sentences – breathless, bad-mouthed, resentful sentences, sentences that are fetid, rhythmic and readable, full of insult and gossip, anecdotes and digressions. The genius of Hurricane Season lies in the way its author encourages the reader to work with this babble to build not just the narrative of the murder, but also a picture of a poverty-stricken community further devastated by the coming of oil capital and the drugs industry.

So who killed the Witch? In La Matosa everyone is known as a drunk, a user and/or a sponger and an irresponsible piece of shit. Everyone blames everyone else for everything failed in their lives. As a result it’s hard to unravel who did what. No one’s monologue is dependable and the contorted familial relationships and naming conventions of the village leave you at times unsure who you’re reading about. Suspicion falls immediately on Maurilio - not old Maurilio, buried beneath a canary yellow gravestone by his doting grandmother after he caught Aids in jail, but young Maurilio - who was seen by cousin Yesenia dragging a body dressed all in black from the Witch’s house into a blue van. But Yesenia has hated him from the start. Munra, who drove the van away from the scene, denies he was involved, and anyway claims that the Witch was in fact a man: “You only had to hear his voice and see his hands to know he was a homosexual.” While the pathetic Brando – who was certainly in the van that day and may or may not have found the room where the Witch kept “a shedload of gold coins”, or perhaps a “diamond ring that no one had ever seen” – obsessively revisits his adolescent dreams of bestiality.

The novel takes up and puts down these confused, violent, self-justifying tirades, each focal character revealing a little more about the previous one, a little more about the circumstances of the murder. But it’s the Witch who captures and holds our attention, even when she’s not the centre of it: a shifting, ill-lit gothic Miss Havisham in a filthy black veil, who over the years has descended into a kind of raving silence and self-immurement, the desperate loneliness of some compressed guilt. Fear of windows causes her to brick them all up. Her mother’s sexual relations with the devil produced her: a magical child “so silent and sickly”, that many of the women prayed it would die before too long, but which grew almost instantly into its parent’s physical agent, carrying out tasks from chopping wood to setting a price on the old Witch’s advice.

This relationship of service – of familial slavery hitched to a rotted social fabric – lies at the heart of village transactions, cementing the hold of misogyny: women are conceived of as chattels, even by other women. As children they sleep in chicken coops or in the yard with the dogs, servants of the previous two generations; as adolescents they know themselves the way they know each other – as pieces of shit and stupid cows. A young woman might harbour dreams of finishing her education, becoming a teacher in turn: within a year she’s “knocked up” and down the drain in the heat and humidity of La Matosa for ever. Machismo, superstition and abuse echo on across the generations. The women’s energy is the energy of rage: one of the Witch’s most valuable services is to defuse it, using a red apple and a white carnation. To be effective, the apple must be sliced in half with a special knife and placed on the kitchen table.

Fernanda Melchor’s deep drill into violence, femicide, homophobia and misogyny, translated with considerable verve and force by Sophie Hughes and longlisted for this year’s International Booker, is based on the real-life killing of a “witch” outside Veracruz. It’s a mystery novel, but not one presented in any manner to which we’re accustomed; a horror novel, but only metaphorically; and a political novel with deep penetration of a remarkably foul milieu. “I was in a very pessimistic place when I wrote it,” Melchor told Publishers Weekly earlier this year. You close the book every so often, feeling that you have learned too much. Though there are glitters of humour and empathy, Hurricane Season is an uncompromisingly savage piece of work: difficult to escape from, built to shock. Yet it’s also elating. I was left buoyed up by Melchor’s anger, elated because she had shown me things I needed to be faced with.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/11/hurricane-season-fernanda-melchor-review-mexico-witch

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #39 on: May 20, 2020, 04:07:24 PM »
I'm now reading a totally different book - The Butchers Of Berlin by Chris Petit. Detective novel set in Germany in 1943. Only just started it. So far so good.
Mweh. It was ok. May as well read a Bernie Gunther novel, tbh. There are 2 other books in the series, I doubt I'll bother with them.
I'm now reading Ghoster by Jason Arnopp. I read his last book - The Last Days Of Jack Sparks - which was aces, and this is starting off great, too. A horror/mystery/weirdness vibe to it. Nice.

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #40 on: May 26, 2020, 08:07:38 PM »
After getting a proper bug for Batman after watch the Nolan trilogy, and playing Arkham Knight on the PS4 I have just ordered Batman: Year One.

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2020, 11:18:28 AM »
Ghoster was good, though not as good as Last Day Of JS.
I'm now reading the aforementioned Super Flat Times. I have not got a clue what's going on, but I'm really enjoying it. It's completely bonkers in a weird dystopian way.

Inspector Norse

  • I bash the Bishop well.
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2020, 01:23:57 PM »
Just ordered Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor. Anyone read it?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/11/hurricane-season-fernanda-melchor-review-mexico-witch

Got it on the shelf but not read it yet because can’t be arsed with something with no paragraph breaks right now. Does sound really good, just need to be in the right mood for thar kind of thing.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2020, 02:46:58 PM »
Is 2013 new enough?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._(Dorst_novel)

I wasn't super-thrilled about reading it, having been gifted it a few years ago, as I've not been wild on anything Abrams has done recently. But this was great. Enjoyed the story/stories, liked the format, and after the Wikipedia article mentioned it was partly inspired by the story of B. Traven, I noticed I have an old paperback of "The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre", so I might read that next.

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2020, 03:10:45 PM »
Currently reading The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell. I first read it four years ago and found it wasn't as good as Troubles or The Singapore Grip. It's a bit of a slow-burner, but I'm now in the middle, where the eponymous siege is in full swing and really enjoying it. Like most of his writing, it's a scathing satire about British imperialism; in this case, the materialism, prejudice and sheer complacency of British officials in some Indian backwater gets shot to pieces in a way that's often brutal but also really funny.

Troubles is his best novel, though - it's something I'm constantly recommending to people, not least because it's hilarious.

chveik

  • vampires have it easy
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #45 on: May 27, 2020, 03:20:46 PM »
I guess they're only recent-ish for me but I really enjoyed Pastoralia and In Persuasion Nation

Inspector Norse

  • I bash the Bishop well.
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #46 on: May 27, 2020, 08:49:17 PM »
Is 2013 new enough?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._(Dorst_novel)

Currently reading The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell.

Personally I'm reading a book called 'The Pilgrim's Progress' by John Bunyan. It's going to be a big seller I reckon. Look out for it!

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2020, 06:29:36 PM »
Personally I'm reading a book called 'The Pilgrim's Progress' by John Bunyan. It's going to be a big seller I reckon. Look out for it!

Shit! I posted this in the wrong thread!

Captain Crunch

  • Twister, Dustbuster, Hospital Bed
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #48 on: June 01, 2020, 07:53:24 AM »
Two recent(ish) ones:

Disoriental (2018) by Negar Djavadi.  "Kimia Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five and facing the future she has built for herself as well as the prospect of a new generation, Kimia is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which come to her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. A high-spirited, kaleidoscopic story, blending key moments of Iranian history, politics, and culture with stories of family drama and triumph."

A bit dry for me, overambitious and humourless.  It also reminded me of the commentary on Spinal Tap – every little thing is the most IMPORTANT TURNING POINT in her life.  Would not recommend.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat (2018) by Helen Phillips.  I got this from this list of weird books.  The list seems to have been written by Quinn Morgendorffer but I like a lot of the books mentioned (Bear vs Shark, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine etc).  This one is excellent, very strange but nice and compact and well paced, I’d recommend it. 

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #49 on: June 01, 2020, 12:08:02 PM »
I'm now reading the aforementioned Super Flat Times. I have not got a clue what's going on, but I'm really enjoying it. It's completely bonkers in a weird dystopian way.
Finished this last night. It was SO good! It reminded me of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. Not story-wise, but just that dreamy weirdness. I'm definitely going to read it again (SFT).

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #50 on: June 01, 2020, 12:09:13 PM »

The Beautiful Bureaucrat (2018) by Helen Phillips.  I got this from this list of weird books.  The list seems to have been written by Quinn Morgendorffer but I like a lot of the books mentioned (Bear vs Shark, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine etc).  This one is excellent, very strange but nice and compact and well paced, I’d recommend it.

What an excellent list! Thanks, CC!

Captain Crunch

  • Twister, Dustbuster, Hospital Bed
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #51 on: June 09, 2020, 02:29:13 PM »
Just finished another one, Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand.  I don’t tend to read much spooky ghost stuff but this was excellent.  It’s the story of a band who go off to record an album in a big abandoned house in the country (you can see where this is going) but it’s told in retrospect via interviews with the band 40-odd years later.  The voices don’t change enough for the characters to become clear but the style works well as each band member reveals a different spooky thing that wouldn’t have been plausible coming from one person.  Like ‘The Beautiful Bureaucrat’ it’s nice and compact (140 odd pages) and paced well, you know there’s a new little creepy thing coming every few interviews.   

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #52 on: July 14, 2020, 11:13:16 PM »
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Yeah, it was really good. Not 'one of the greatest living American novelists' good (as one article had it) but very enjoyable. Book starts with bodies being unearthed from a secret graveyard in the grounds of a reform school in Florida. Story then goes back to the 1960s to follow Elwood, a decent, MLK obsessed young boy who is unjustly sent to that school.

Inspector Norse

  • I bash the Bishop well.
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #53 on: July 20, 2020, 08:03:01 PM »
Just ordered Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor. Anyone read it?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/11/hurricane-season-fernanda-melchor-review-mexico-witch

What did you think of it?

Finished it yesterday and it’s certainly a compelling and distressing read; does a powerful job of depicting its slummy locations and hopeless lives.
That said, there’s too much of that hopelessness: the characters are uniformly pathetic and unpleasant, which makes it difficult to feel sympathy for their situation, however true the circumstances ring.
I sometimes feel that works can take this bleak, misanthropic view out of laziness or cynicism; it’s easier to paint everything black than to offer chinks of genuine human light.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #54 on: August 03, 2020, 04:42:07 PM »


Guy at work lent me a couple of scifi books (the other's Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice), I lent him Neal Stevenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age in return.

I only started it today and am a couple of chapters in. Not really got going yet but it's easy to read and quite sardonic.

Artie Fufkin

  • Let Me In, Sparks
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #55 on: August 03, 2020, 04:55:23 PM »
I lent him Neal Stevenson's Snow Crash
One of the very few books I've given up on. My friend recommended it as one of his favourite books ever. I just didn't get it.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #56 on: August 03, 2020, 05:14:37 PM »
I quite liked it, especially since it bothered to explain futuristic tech based on existing tech in a quite understandable way, one of the reasons I rated it higher than Gibson's stuff, which just gave things a daft name and vaguely implied what their function was. I would've probably been about 17 when I read it though, I really should give it another read.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #57 on: August 03, 2020, 08:36:48 PM »
Old Man's War is great, as is Ancillary Justice. I reckon you'll have a good time with them both.

buttgammon

  • How thick is wall?
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #58 on: August 03, 2020, 09:51:52 PM »
Currently reading Modern Times by Cathy Sweeney, a collection of short stories (some of them very short) that's being compared to Lydia Davis. It's excellent so far, and has that nice combination of fable-like narratives and a darkly funny streak that often makes a great story.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #59 on: August 04, 2020, 10:27:38 AM »
One of the very few books I've given up on. My friend recommended it as one of his favourite books ever. I just didn't get it.

I was recommended Stephenson's The Diamond Age by two friends who adored it but I didn't get on with it at all and quit after 60 pages, I liked some parts of it but the long, rambling science bits were tedious to me and apparently there was a sod load of that sort of thing throughout the book so I couldn't be arsed with it any more.

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