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What are you reading?

Started by Talulah, really!, October 04, 2017, 10:07:22 PM

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Artie Fufkin

Quote from: Artie Fufkin on December 21, 2021, 11:45:31 AMI've just started reading Follow You Home by Mark Edwards.
Read about the first 30 pages. Not the best writing, but keeping me interested.
Pulp horror kinda thang.
Finished this the other day. Mweh.

Famous Mortimer

"Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany" by David Stubbs

Goes out of his way in the 75-page prologue to repeatedly insist Baader-Meinhof were rubbish and the people who still idolise them are idiots. Perhaps it's the 2014 publishing date, I feel the same book written after the misery of the last 7 years would be quite different. Or perhaps it's just more both-sides-ist pablum.

When he eventually gets onto the music, I realised I'd already read the section on Amon Duul somewhere else, and I didn't like it that much the first time. While I adore lots of the music, I find Stubbs' style a bit irritating.

I also have a nagging fear in the back of my head that one of the reasons I like the music is something in the analogue nature of the recording, about old-timey organs and using technology not for its intended purpose. I'm not sure it's an accident that few of the bands in the book made any decent music past the end of the 70s, and wonder if they'd had access to the same equipment they had later in their career, those early albums would have sounded a bit naff.

Anyway, not really the point of the book. I liked the bit on Conrad Schnitzler, who carried on making great "music" throughout his career, and the book itself was fine.

sevendaughters

last year I failed in my 50 books challenge because bereavement and lack of motivation when it came to words on a page (though i did do a few audiobooks). however I am back! first three of the year lined up and committed to:

- Colin Wilson, The Philosopher's Stone (about 40% through)
- John le Carre, Silverview (new one, Xmas present)
- Keith Roberts, Pavane

All manageable length. Back in a few weeks.

bgmnts

Quite endeared to Cicero sometimes now, reading his correspondence. He seems desperate for his mate to reply to him. We've all been there I suppose.

Artie Fufkin

Just started (about 30 pages in) reading Francis Spuffords' Light Perpetual.
Enjoying it immensely.
Spoiler alert
A 'what if?' kind of story, I guess.
Starts with a WW2 bomb going off in a branch of Woolworths. Amongst the shoppers, 5 kids are killed, and Francis takes you on a journey through their lives had they had lived (I think this is the premise, anyhow).
[close]
Really well written.
I have another of his books to read; Golden Hill. Heard good things about that, too.

Twit 2

I read Bob Mortimer's autobiography, as I got it for Christmas. Lovely to hear about his working class upbringing and solicitor years (lots of interesting stuff here), but once he gets famous it just peters out. Some of it is astonishingly banal and poorly written, and that's after the editor/ghost-writer has punched it up. Still loved reading it because it's Bob, but yeesh, celeb autobiographies really are the bottom of the literary barrel. Cellini/Berlioz (to name my two favourite autobiographies) it ain't.

Kankurette

Just finished The Vanishing Half. It made me cry.

My mum got Bob Mortimer's book, not sure how far in she is though. I'm not keen on celebrity autobiographies/memoirs unless they wrote them themselves, like Kristin Hersh or Carrie Brownstein.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: Twit 2 on January 11, 2022, 08:19:43 PMI read Bob Mortimer's autobiography, as I got it for Christmas. Lovely to hear about his working class upbringing and solicitor years (lots of interesting stuff here), but once he gets famous it just peters out. Some of it is astonishingly banal and poorly written, and that's after the editor/ghost-writer has punched it up. Still loved reading it because it's Bob, but yeesh, celeb autobiographies really are the bottom of the literary barrel. Cellini/Berlioz (to name my two favourite autobiographies) it ain't.

While I agree with you about how some of it is poorly written I felt the opposite and struggled with his early shy years / misery at university, and only found it interesting once he met Vic.

mr. logic

He said in an interview that he his instinct was to fill it with silly made up stories and he was talked out of it by an editor or publisher or something. I wish he had stuck with his gut, to be honest.

Famous Mortimer

"Voyages of Delusion" by Glyn Williams

Ever since I read "The Terror" years back, I've had an interest in the attempts to find the Northwest Passage, and this book is just about that. As much about the political reasons behind these attempts as the voyages themselves, it's really interesting.

samadriel

I'm listening to the audiobook of "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma" by Bessel van der Kolk, on the recommendation of a friend. Still in the early chapters, and it seems really good - I constantly struggle, I must say, with the stories of trauma victims, as someone very sensitive to the bad things that have happened to me, but who has never suffered things like rape or war atrocities. I feel a constant vacillating sense of "oh yeah, that's just like how I react to memories of my childhood beatings" and then, "I haven't experienced anything remotely like what these people have". You'd think it would put me off, but it's still a great book, I can see why is been such a big seller.

Famous Mortimer

"Rainbow Stories" by William Vollman

Not sure why I owned this, presumably a recommendation from some other author I liked years ago. Rubs your nose in the worst and most wretched parts of humanity for several hundred pages, and my tolerance for that sort of thing is fairly low.

"The causes of the English Civil War" by Ann Hughes
Spends its introduction downplaying the use of trying to find the causes of things, which is at least an interesting idea. Perhaps slightly too much about the debates around history than the history itself, which might be of use to some people but isn't ideal for the general reader. At least, that's what I got from it.

Perhaps, as a moderately depressed socialist, this sort of thing just isn't for me. I've enjoyed some very dark writing in my life, but reality is unpleasant enough to not need to delve too deep into it for my entertainment, at least these days. There are enough dystopias that now sound like an optimistic view of the next 50 years that I'd rather read about spaceships in post-scarcity economies than be reminded that, yes, the world is getting shitter all the time.

shagatha crustie

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel

Having previously only really known Mantel as 'that one who wrote Wolf Hall that everyone went on about,' I've recently been alerted to her talents beyond historical fiction. The short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher was interesting enough but (I thought) broadly hit and miss, so I was ready to give up there, but was lent Beyond Black and it's brilliant. So much more energy and enthusiasm than in the short stories, several of which felt like first drafts.

It's about a spiritual medium and her assistant and their work in the wake of Princess Diana's death. With its magical realism, dark humour and focus on a larger-than-life female 'performer' it's reminding me somewhat of Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, but much bleaker. It brilliantly co-articulates the nothingy 'edgelands' just outside London with the existence of a supernatural realm that is all the more malevolent and frightening for its mundanity and similarity to the 'living' world. The writing is spry, witty and brutal in places, with an undercurrent of anger; it troubles the line between ghostly manifestations and the actual psychological 'hauntings' of childhood trauma.

Prior to that I read Promised You A Miracle: UK80-82 by Andy Beckett, an intelligent and entertaining distillation of the atmosphere in Britain in the early years of the Thatcher administration. He paints Thatcher as less of a driven ideologue and more of an incompetent, who seized on monetarist economic policy out of desperation and hit a lucky strike with the Falklands. Through a series of closeups on a wide cast of characters (GLC staff and Livingstone himself, ABC and other New Romantic groups, the Greenham Common activists, early Channel 4 execs) he tacitly argues that the individualism of the era cut across all political standpoints, creating a highly muddled period where right-wing realpolitik was carried out in the name of left-wing ideology and vice-versa. Would highly recommend!

Artie Fufkin

Quote from: shagatha crustie on January 17, 2022, 06:23:20 PMBeyond Black by Hilary Mantel

Having previously only really known Mantel as 'that one who wrote Wolf Hall that everyone went on about,' I've recently been alerted to her talents beyond historical fiction. The short story collection The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher was interesting enough but (I thought) broadly hit and miss, so I was ready to give up there, but was lent Beyond Black and it's brilliant. So much more energy and enthusiasm than in the short stories, several of which felt like first drafts.

It's about a spiritual medium and her assistant and their work in the wake of Princess Diana's death. With its magical realism, dark humour and focus on a larger-than-life female 'performer' it's reminding me somewhat of Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, but much bleaker. It brilliantly co-articulates the nothingy 'edgelands' just outside London with the existence of a supernatural realm that is all the more malevolent and frightening for its mundanity and similarity to the 'living' world. The writing is spry, witty and brutal in places, with an undercurrent of anger; it troubles the line between ghostly manifestations and the actual psychological 'hauntings' of childhood trauma.

Well, fuck my old boots. I read this when it first came out (paperback), and I've only clicked that it was Mantel. I mean, I knew it was written by Mantel at the time, but I didn't know who Mantel was back then (obvs), and I'd subsequently forgotten it was Mantel.
I remember struggling a little with it, but appreciated it was written well. I liked her pervy ghost companion(?). Can't really remember a lot about it now.
I do remember buying it specifically for the cover.

shagatha crustie

Quote from: Artie Fufkin on January 18, 2022, 02:14:36 PMWell, fuck my old boots. I read this when it first came out (paperback), and I've only clicked that it was Mantel. I mean, I knew it was written by Mantel at the time, but I didn't know who Mantel was back then (obvs), and I'd subsequently forgotten it was Mantel.
I remember struggling a little with it, but appreciated it was written well. I liked her pervy ghost companion(?). Can't really remember a lot about it now.
I do remember buying it specifically for the cover.

That's mad! Guess it's a perfect illustration of how she was a popular/respected novelist in her own right before Wolf Hall, but the double Booker superstardom made such a 'name' for her that her old stuff didn't really get a look in. I watched an old BBC Four doc about her the other night and it covered that aspect of her career, but it did really put me off the Cromwell novels, with 'actors' doing terrible hammy readings against white backgrounds.